Introduction: The greatest burden for a subset of pathogens is associated with infection during pregnancy. Evidence for teratogenic effects of Zika Virus have highlighted the importance of understanding the epidemiology of such pathogens. Rubella is perhaps the most classic example, and there is much to be learned from the long history of modelling associated with this virus.
Methods: We extended an existing framework for modeling age-specific dynamics of rubella to illustrate how the body of knowledge of rubella dynamics informs the dynamics of teratogenic infections more broadly, and particularly the impact of control on such infections in different transmission settings.
Results: During invasion, the burden in women of childbearing age is expected to peak, but then fall to low levels before eventually levelling out. Importantly, as illustrated by rubella dynamics, there is potential for a paradoxical effect, where inadequate control efforts can increase the burden.
Conclusions: Drawing on the existing body of work on rubella dynamics highlights key knowledge gaps for understanding the risks associated with Zika Virus. The magnitude and impacts of sterilizing immunity, plus antigenic maps measuring cross-protection with other flaviviruses, and the magnitude of transmission, as well as likely impact of control efforts on transmission are likely to be key variables for robust inference into the outcome of management efforts for Zika Virus.