Introduction: Zika virus could be transmitted in the state of Queensland, Australia, in parts of the state where the mosquito vectors are established.
Methods: We assessed the epidemic potential of Zika in Queensland from January 2015 to August 2016, and estimate the epidemic potential from September to December 2016, by calculating the temperature-dependent relative vectorial capacity (rVc), based on empirical and estimated parameters.
Results: Through 2015, we estimated a rVc of 0.119, 0.152, 0.170, and 0.175, respectively in the major cities of Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cairns, and Townsville. From January to August 2016, the epidemic potential trend was similar to 2015, however the highest epidemic potential was in Cairns. During September to November 2016, the epidemic potential is consistently the highest in Cairns, followed by Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane. Then, from November to December 2016, Townsville has the highest estimated epidemic potential.
Discussion: We demonstrate using a vectorial capacity model that ZIKV could have been locally transmitted in Queensland, Australia during 2015 and 2016. ZIKV remains a threat to Australia for the upcoming summer, during the Brazilian Carnival season, when the abundance of vectors is relatively high. Understanding the epidemic potential of local ZIKV transmission will allow better management of threats to blood safety and assessment of public health risk.