Zika Virus: an Emerging Global Pandemic

Monica Madvariya
Zika Virus - Abstract
Zika virus is a virus which has been known to cause human illness for more than half a century, but it has only recently emerged as a global pandemic. WHO has declared this pandemic as a public health emergency of international concern in February 2016. The Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which are found in heavy populations in most tropical countries, including India. The real threat that the virus poses is not due the acute febrile illness, but due the possible effects on the growing fetus and the postulated association with neurological illnesses like Guillian- Barre Syndrome. Though no cases of Zika virus disease have been reported in India as yet, India remains very much susceptible to the disease due to its non immune population, heavy Aedes density in most areas, and a growing international traveller community. Hence, all health care providers in India need to be aware of the illness, and appropriate preventive measures. Pregnant women and infants are groups that need specific protection and care. The Ministry of Health and family welfare has recently released the guidelines on Zika virus disease.

Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus. It was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where it first isolated.[1]
It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. [2]
The virus belongs to the Genus Flaviviridae and it is closely related to the Dengue virus. Its principal vector is the Aedes mosquito, which usually bites during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours. Its reservoir is not known, though serological evidence has been found in West African monkeys and rodents.[2],[3]

Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus. It is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions, which also transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.[4] It has also been isolated from A. africanus, A. coargenteus, A. luteocephala, A. vitattus and A. furcifer.[5]
There are reported cases of possible sexual transmission as well as vertical perinatal transmission.[6] Like other flaviviruses it could potentially be transmitted by blood transfusion and several affected countries have developed strategies to try and screen blood donors.[7]
Zika virus disease outbreaks were reported for the first time from the Pacific in 2007 and 2013 (Yap and French Polynesia, respectively), and in 2015 from the Americas (Brazil and Colombia) and Africa (Cape Verde). In addition, more than 13 countries in the Americas have reported sporadic Zika virus infections indicating rapid geographic expansion of Zika virus.[8]
So far, the following countries have reported Zika virus: Brazil, Barbados, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Equador, El Salvador, French Guyana. Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St Martin, Suriname, Virgin Island and Venezuela.[9] Due to ongoing spread of the virus, more countries are likely to be affected.
The first human cases of Zika virus infection were reported in Nigeria in 1954. A few outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa and in some areas in Southeast Asia.[10] There have been no documented cases of Zika virus in the Indian subcontinent, though antibodies to Zika have been found in healthy people in India which could indicate past exposure, or more likely, cross-reaction with other flaviviruses.[11]
Zika virus had spread to Southeast Asia by 1945.In 1977–1978, it was described as a cause of fever in Indonesia.[12]
In 2007, the first major outbreak, with 185 confirmed cases occurred in the Yap Islands of the Federated States of Micronesia.[13] This was also the first time Zika fever had been reported outside Africa and Asia. Before the Yap Island outbreak, only 14 human cases had ever been reported.[14]
Zika virus has now rapidly spread throughout South and Central America, reaching Mexico in November 2015.[15]It has appeared sporadically in travellers to the United States and Europe but has not established person to person spread in those areas.[16]
In May 2015, Brazil officially reported its first 16 cases of the illness[17], following which thousands were infected. Possibly, the most disastrous consequence of this rapid spread has been 2,400 cases of microcephaly and 29 infant deaths in Brazil in 2015.[18]
Due to the outbreak which started in Brazil in 2015, the World Health Organization declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016.[19]

Zika Virus: an Emerging Global Pandemic Zika Virus: an Emerging Global Pandemic 02/10/2016
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