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Bitten: Zika Virus 101
By Gerri Turner

ZikaVirus

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Bitten: Zika Virus 101

The world has had its fair share of virus outbreaks in the past few years: first Ebola and now Zika. But not many people are familiar with the Zika virus. So what is it and what steps can you take to protect yourself?

A Short History

Here is a brief history of the Zika virus and the documented cases of human infection. (1)

1947

Zika virus is first discovered in primates.

1952

Zika infections first occur in humans, recorded in both Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. It was discovered that mosquitoes were carrying the virus and transmitting it through biting.

2007

14 known cases of Zika documented.

2013

An outbreak of Zika occurs in French Polynesia.

2015

An outbreak occurs in Brazil, where it is found that along with its most common symptoms, Zika can cause neurological and autoimmune complications.

2016

Zika virus is declared a public health emergency concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Common Symptoms

Fever

Rash

Joint pain

Muscle pain

Red or bloodshot eyes

Headache

Fatigue

Pregnant women especially should avoid traveling to infected or mosquito-ridden areas, as the virus can transfer from mother to fetus, sometimes causing microcephaly in newborns.(1)

35

Number of infants born with microcephaly during the 2015 outbreak of Zika in Brazil (1)

2-7 days

Average length of symptoms (3)

Anyone infected is at risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks nerves, sometimes causing paralysis. (3)

The prevalence of Guillain-Barré syndrome is around 6 to 40 cases per 1 million people. (2)

Where Is Zika?

Active Zika virus transmission map (1)

Aruba

Barbados

Bolivia

Bonaire

Brazil

Colombia

Puerto Rico

Costa Rica

Cuba

Curacao

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

French Guiana

Guadeloupe

Guatemala

Guyana

Haiti

Honduras

Jamaica

Martinique

Mexico

Nicaragua

Panama

Paraguay

Saint Martin

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Sint Maarten

Suriname

Trinidad and Tobago

U.S. Virgin Islands

Venezuela

American Samoa

Fiji

Federated States of Micronesia

Marshall Islands

New Caledonia

Samoa

Tonga

Cape Verde

Prevention Tips

More research needs to be done on the transmission of the Zika virus, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has still issued some prevention tips based on what we do know. (1, 3)

Do not travel to countries with high transmission rates.

Most mosquitoes that carry the virus are out during the day, so wear protective clothing and use a bug repellent spray during this time.

Always reapply bug repellent according to product directions.

Use mosquito netting if available, particularly for newborns in cribs or playpens.

Avoid sexual contact if infected with the virus.

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Sources:

1. http://www.cdc.gov

2. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov

3. http://www.who.int