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)
Zika virus is first discovered in primates.
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.
14 known cases of Zika documented.
An outbreak of Zika occurs in French Polynesia.
An outbreak occurs in Brazil, where it is found that along with its most common symptoms, Zika can cause neurological and autoimmune complications.
Zika virus is declared a public health emergency concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Red or bloodshot eyes
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)
Number of infants born with microcephaly during the 2015 outbreak of Zika in Brazil (1)
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)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
U.S. Virgin Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
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.