In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus outbreak a global public health emergency. The epidemic is raging in over 30 countries in the Americas, Pacific Islands, and several other regions around the world. The Zika virus belongs to the Flaviviridae family, which also includes the yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. It is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, especially Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Other mosquito species such as Anopheles and Culex are also considered potential Zika virus vectors. Symptoms are usually mild to moderate, including fever, bilateral non-purulent conjunctivitis, rash, and arthralgia.
However, more severe neurological disorders were reported during the 2013-2014 epidemics in French Polynesia, primarily consisting of meningoencephalitis and Guillain- Barré syndrome. A link with neurological abnormalities like microcephaly and intracranial calcifications has recently been suspected, with the Brazilian Ministry of Health reporting a 20- fold increase in microcephaly cases as compared to the previous year. Though strongly suspected, this relationship still remains to be formally demonstrated. Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted from man to woman, yet duration of its persistence in semen remains unknown. The diagnosis relies on serological methods and PCR, treatment being primarily symptomatic. Preventive measures include protection against mosquito bites and avoidance of travels to countries affected by Zika virus, especially with respect to pregnant women.
Zika virus, pregnancy, microcephaly, Flaviviridae
What does this article bring up for us?
It is a clear overview on the current state of knowledge on the epidemy of zika virus.