Zika Virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 as an emerging mosquito-borne virus.
Experts found rhesus monkeys as the main bearer of Zika through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. In 1952, however, humans from Uganda and Tanzania were subsequently identified with this strange disease. Consequently, Zika virus was recorded in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the pacific.
Biological identification of Zika Virus:
- Genre: flavivirus
- Vector: Aedes mosquitoes (which normally bite during late afternoon, morning or evening hours), the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever.
- Reservoir: Unknown
As a result, humans get infected with zika virus through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms associated with Zika virus disease are:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Zika and Hospitalization
Although hospitalization of severe disease is uncommon, the virus can cause mild illness with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.
In Jan 2016, the world received unusual breaking News from the pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regarding the first outbreak of Zika virus infection that was confirmed in Brazil.
The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil resulted to poor pregnancy outcomes where expectant mothers suffered uncommon birth defects.
Areas with Zika
Recently, after an outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) responded the incident by issuing a travel alert for people travelling to certain countries and regions where transmission of Zika virus is ongoing.
The following areas were found to be infested with Zika Virus although experts warn that more countries across America are more prone to this infection, therefore many countries will be added soon. Below are red areas of the Americas on the map:
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Martin
How Zika virus complicate pregnancy
It has been discovered that Zika virus is one of the worst diseases that can lead to birth defects. The virus has also brought confusion in medical sectors and now medical researchers are wondering if dangers associated to Zika have been underestimated.
Nevertheless, there have been evidence over the past year from the public health officials that Zika virus may cause neurological conditions in adults and severe birth defects in newborns. Moreover, pregnant women and their babies are in extreme danger of contracting Zika virus due to their low immune system.
As a result, when the disease infects the mother, there is a high probability of infecting the fetus too. Researchers have also linked zika virus as the main cause of microcephaly, a rare birth defect from expectant mothers infected with Zika.
Microcephaly is a neurological condition that cause expectant mothers to give birth to babies with abnormally small heads, and severe developmental issues, and can also result in death though in rare instances. This condition has also been found to be increasingly dangerous to the fetus especially when the mother is infected on the first trimester.
Currently, researches are yet to find a vaccine or medication that can prevent babies and pregnant mothers from being infected with Zika virus. Unfortunately, according to CDC, the procedure of getting a vaccine or medication against this virus may take time, probably several months or years ahead. For now, the only remedy against this scary disease is for the government of Brazil to urge women not to get pregnant for the next two years, which is a big blow to newly wedded couples.
Researchers are now struggling to find out any link between Zika virus and microcephaly. There is no clear evidence as to how Zika virus can be associated with pregnancy during transmission and factors that can increase risk to fetus are yet to be understood.