What is Zika Virus?
A single-stranded RNA virus of the Flavivirdae family, genus Flavivirus. The virus was first identified in 1947 in a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest, Uganda.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Only about 1 in 4 people infected with Zika develop signs or symptoms, which include fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgias and conjunctivitis. Additionally, Zika causes headaches, myalgias, retro-orbital pain and vomiting.
How is it transmitted?
Zika Virus is primarily transmitted through the Aedes mosquito, which also transmits Dengue and Chikungunya. Transmission is also believed to take place vertically between mother and child, and through sexual contact.
Where has it been found?
As of the January 9, 2016, the following Pan American countries have seen confirmed cases of Zika virus: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela.
Countries with confirmed Zika virus outside of the Americas include: Central African Republic, Egypt, French Polynesia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, The Philippines, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and Vietnam
Why is it in the news?
Zika virus made national headlines in the United States in late December 2015 when Brazillian health officials advised would-be parents to delay pregnancy over concerns that Zika virus is contributing to a spike in microcephaly. The Brazil Ministry of Health reports a twenty-fold increase in the incidence of microcephaly over the past year in areas that have had confirmed Zika virus transmission (2,782 cases in 2015 versus 147 cases in 2014). The connection was made in November 2015 when Brazilian health officials found traces of Zika virus in a deceased newborn born with microcephaly.
From the Pan American Health Organization Zika virus website, Epidemiological Alert, December 1, 2015
Additionally, Brazil has reported an increase in neurological syndromes in patients infected with Zika virus, most notably Guillain-Barré syndrome.
What is the treatment?
Supportive care: rest, fluids, antipyretics, and analgesics. Hold aspirin or NSAIDs until Dengue has been ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage.
Pan American Health Organization Zika virus website: http://www.paho.org/zikavirus
Brazil warns against pregnancy due to spreading virus, CNN, December 23, 2015
Foy BD, Kobylinski KC, Foy JLC, Blitvich BJ, Travassos da Rosa A, Haddow AD, et al. Probable non–vector-borne transmission of Zika virus, Colorado, USA. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011 May; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21529401
Pan American Health Organization Epidemiological Alert: Neurological syndrome, congenital malformations, and Zika virus infection. Implications for public health in the Americas; December 1, 2015. PDF Direct Link
A new mosquito-borne threat to pregnancy women in Brazil, The Lancet, published online December 23, 2015. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(15)00548-4/abstract