I have been silently following the progress of Zika virus and given the prevalence of mosquitoes in the country, it was only a matter of time before it became a public health alert. WHO (I know I mention them often) declared it an internationally public health emergency.
Zika virus discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, only currently erupted in the Western hemisphere. It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which is also responsible for dengue, yellow fever and rift valley fever. It is a slight concern in the country given the cases of dengue fever down in the Coastal region. However researchers at Centre for Virology Research (CVR) – KEMRI are keeping all incidences under watch.
There are only 3 documented cases (outside Africa) of the virus being sexually transmitted. Little is known of Zika at the moment which is a prelude to the statement, there is no vaccine or cure. It comes with few symptoms which may include the usual fever, rash and joint pains. CDC (Centre for Disease Control) only advises good nourishment and rest as a normal immune system should clear the virus within an average of 7 days from infection.
The suspected link to pregnancy is due to the over 4000 cases of children in Brazil born with microcephaly from mothers who were Zika infected during the course of their pregnancy especially during the first trimester. Microcephaly is a condition in which the infant is born with an unusually small head and may include an underdeveloped brain. The ripple effect on the child may vary from learning disabilities, hearing loss to paralysis. However, microcephaly can be caused by other factors besides the Zika virus. CDC has issued travel warnings for pregnant women to a couple of areas in the Caribbean, South and Central America. Updated list can be found here.
Photocredit – Nature world news