Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus, which is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that usually bite in the morning and late afternoon/evening hours. The virus was first identified in rehesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947 through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. Currently, there is no specific vaccine or medicine to treat Zika infections.
In 1952, the Zika virus was identified in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
People infected with Zika virus will experience symptoms (similar to those of dengue and Chikungunya diseases) such as fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.
Treatment for symptoms
• Get plenty of rest.
• Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
• Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
• Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
• If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
People infected with Zika should prevent mosquito bites for the first week of their illness. The Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. The infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
Reported cases of Zika Virus
A total of 33 countries already reported autochthonous circulation of Zika virus from January 2015 to February 5, 2016. Six additional countries reported indirect evidence of local transmission.
Authorities in Brazil estimated around 497,593 to 1,482, 701 cases of Zika virus since the outbreak began in late 2014.
Colombia reported 20, 297 cases as of January 23, 2016. Health authorities in the country first detected Zika virus cases in October 2015.
Cape Verde, an island off the coast of West Africa, reported an outbreak and reported 7 081 cases as of January 17, 2016.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States showed 52 travel-associated cases and 9 locally-acquired cased of Zika virus as of February 10. On February 1, an individual in Dallas County was infected with the virus after having sexual contact with person who was sick after returning from a country where there is an outbreak of the virus.
China also confirmed its first case of Zika virus two days ago. The infected person recently travelled to South America.
Potential complications of Zika virus disease
National Health authorities in Brazil and French Polynesia reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease.
In Brazil, local health authorities noted an increase in Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the immune system of the body attacks the nerves that produces a lower, bilateral and symmetrical sensorimotor development deficit. The initial symptoms are weakness and tingling of the extremities, which can spread and eventually paralyzes the entire body.
Brazilian health authorities also observed an increase of babies born with Microcephaly, an uncommon condition where a baby’s head is smaller than expected in terms of age and sex. The condition usually happens when the brain was not developed properly, and it may be caused by genetic or environmental exposures to toxins, radiation or infection.