From different sources I have tried to compile a detailed but concise background on the research and developments of Zika thus far that are more significant or facts that highlight its seriousness.
- The Virus was first detected in Uganda in 1947 but previous outbreaks have never been of this scale
- The first cases in South America were reported by Brazil in May 2015
- It was first detected in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947 in a rhesus monkey, and again in 1948 in the mosquito Aedes africanus, which is the forest relative of Aedes aegypti.
Brazil is most effected, with approximately 0.5-1.5 million people have been infected in Brazil people possibly infected which is the largest outbreak ever recorded.
A WHO official said Zika could infect 3-4 million people a year in the Americas, which would include both people who develop symptoms and those who don’t.
One hospital in Brazil, had gone from an average of 5 cases of microcephaly a year to 300 in the past 6 months
- The Zika virus is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito
- These mosquitos are aggressive, bite during the day, prefer to bite people and live near people
- A mother can pass in to her newborn around the time of birth
- It is possible that it can be transmitted from a mother to her foetus during pregnancy
- There has been one report of it being transmitted through a blood transfusion and another through sexual contact
- Spreads best near still water for mosquitoes to reproduce and in high density populations
- Many people don’t have any symptoms
- A blood test can confirm these symptoms to be caused by the Zika virus
- joint pain
- muscle pain
- The incubation period is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- Microcephaly – possible link to babies born with underdeveloped skulls and brains The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people
- Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon
- Deaths are rare
- No current treatment or vaccinations
- A vaccine will undergo trails in 2 years however may not be open to the public until another 10 years
- WHO are taking steps like expanding mosquito spraying programs
- Advice in Brazil is to increase family planning and recommend couples to not get pregnant until more information is known. In El Salvador the government has asked to avoid pregnancy until 2018
Why is it so serious?
- Zika virus is a flavivirus thus it comes from the same family as the virus which causes yellow fever
- Microcephaly can lead to neurological underdevelopment and brain damage in babies
- Most people don’t know they have it as 80% don’t develop symptoms
- The symptoms are similar to less serious illnesses such as flu