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We use a data-driven global stochastic epidemic model to project past and future spread of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas. The model has high spatial and temporal resolution, and integrates real-world demographic, human mobility, socioeconomic, temperature, and vector density data. We estimate that the first introduction of ZIKV to Brazil likely occurred between August 2013 and April 2014 (90% credible interval). We provide simulated epidemic profiles of incident ZIKV infections for several countries in the Americas through February 2017. The ZIKV epidemic is characterized by slow growth and high spatial and seasonal heterogeneity, attributable to the dynamics of the mosquito vector and to the characteristics and mobility of the human populations. We project the expected timing and number of pregnancies infected with ZIKV during the first trimester, and provide estimates of microcephaly cases assuming different levels of risk as reported in empirical retrospective studies. Our approach represents an early modeling effort aimed at projecting the potential magnitude and timing of the ZIKV epidemic that might be refined as new and more accurate data from the region become available.

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