The ongoing Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic in the Americas poses a major global public health emergency. While ZIKV is transmitted from human to human by bites of Aedes mosquitoes, recent evidence indicates that ZIKV can also be transmitted via sexual contact with cases of sexually transmitted ZIKV reported in Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, and the USA. Yet, the role of sexual transmission on the spread and control of ZIKV infection is not well-understood. We introduce a mathematical model to investigate the impact of mosquito-borne and sexual transmission on the spread and control of ZIKV and calibrate the model to ZIKV epidemic data from Brazil, Colombia, and El Salvador. Parameter estimates yielded a basic reproduction number 0 = 2.055 (95% CI: 0.523-6.300), in which the percentage contribution of sexual transmission is 3.044% (95% CI: 0.123-45.73). Our sensitivity analyses indicate that 0 is most sensitive to the biting rate and mortality rate of mosquitoes while sexual transmission increases the risk of infection and epidemic size and prolongs the outbreak. Prevention and control efforts against ZIKV should target both the mosquito-borne and sexual transmission routes.
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