Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that is spread by the Aedes species of mosquito, the mosquito also responsible for the transmission of dengue and chikungunya viruses.
People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness. The first large outbreak of disease caused by Zika infection was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. In July 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.
How you catch Zika virus infection:
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon/evening. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible. Other modes of transmission such as blood transfusion are being investigated.
Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (e.g. residence in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission). A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.
Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
The symptoms of Zika typically pass within the space of 1 week. However, there have been recent concerns about the virus due to a link between Zika and birth defects, such as microcephaly. In light of this, on 1 February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Zika virus outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
On 31 March 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel warnings for people traveling to certain countries and other areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Travelers, particularly those who are pregnant, who are heading to certain regions should be aware of these warnings. Affected regions include:
Central and South America
While the majority of Zika virus cases occur in tropical regions, such as Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guiana, there is the possibility of mosquito infection in tropical-like climates in some cities in the U.S. Transmission by mosquito has been confirmed in both Texas and Florida.