Zika virus roundup
Zika virus is a member of the flavivirus genus, it causes an illness known as Zika fever. This virus has been known to science since 1947 where it was identified in a rehsus monkey, from the 1950’s human cases occurred in a belt around the equator from Africa to Asia. Zika fever was then reported in 2014, with cases occuring on islands in the pacific ocean. The virus then spread to the Americas in 2015.
Zika virus is spread by mosquito, specifically Aedes species, the same species that transmit other viruses such as dengue and chikungunya. Transmission may also occur from mother to child if the mother is already infected with Zika near the time of delivery, but this has been reported as rare. One case reported transmission via blood transfusion. Prevention methods include using mosquito repellents, wearing long sleeved tops and long trousers, and using mosquito nets.
Currently there is no treatment or vaccine.
It has also been suggested that there maybe a link between Zika virus and the possible increase occurence of microcephaly in new borns, this results in the baby’s head and brain not fully developing and being born with an abnormally small head. There has also been a link reported between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome in Brazil and French polynesia, which is a rare condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system resulting in tingling, numbness and muscle weakness.