Flavivirus is a genus of the family Flaviviridae. This genus includes the West Nile virus, dengue fever virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever virus, Zika virus, and several other viruses which may cause encephalitis (swelling in the brain).
|A TEM micrograph of the yellow fever virus|
Group IV ((+)ssRNA)
|Yellow fever virus|
Humans get these viruses after being bitten by an infected mosquito or tick. Usually, if a human who has a Flavivirus gets bitten by a healthy mosquito or tick, the human will not have enough of the virus in their blood to infect the insect. This means humans do not help continue the virus's life cycle (by infecting insects who go on to infect other people). However, this is not true for yellow fever or dengue fever.
People can also get Flaviviruses in other ways, like:
- Touching the dead bodies of animals who had a Flavivirus
- Getting a blood transfusion from someone who has a Flavivirus
- Having sex with someone who has a Flavivirus: this has been proven true at least for the Zika virus.
- Drinking unpasteurized milk products
- A fetus can get a Flavivirus from its mother during childbirth
It is not likely that animals can spread Flaviviruses directly to humans. Scientists believe that an mosquito or tick has to bite an infected animal before it can spread the virus to a human by biting that human. This means that Flaviviruses are probably not contagious diseases. For example, early tests with yellow fever showed that the disease is not a contagious disease.
- Shi, P-Y (ed.) (2012). Molecular Virology and Control of Flaviviruses. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-92-9.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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- Gatherer, Derek; Kohl, Alain (2015-12-18). "Zika virus: a previously slow pandemic spreads rapidly through the Americas". Journal of General Virology. doi:10.1099/jgv.0.000381.