What is the Zika Virus?

The Pandemic of the Zika Virus is currently in full swing, but what risk does it pose to all of us? Zika is a condition that is very similar to West Nile, Dengue, Yellow Fever, Japanese encephalitis and a few others. The virus is part of the Flaviviridae family with a genus of Flavivirus. It is named from a forest in Uganda called – The Zika Forest.

1950’s and after was mostly found from Africa to Asia. Starting after 2007, the virus was seen more eastward, crossing the Pacific Ocean to the Americas.2015-2016 – A pandemic level was reached.

In many of those affected, severity of symptoms can range from: None to Mild. Typically Tylenol and Rest are the treatment of choice. No prevention, such as immunizations, have been thus far effective.

The largest concern is that Zika can be spread from a pregnant women to her unborn child. This can result in brain malformations, small brain size, and other birth defects. Guillain-Barre can be a result in Adults.

Some of the Most Common Symptoms include:

–  Often no symptoms
–  Fever
–  Chills
–  Red Eyes
–  Joint Pain
–  Headaches
–  Fatigue
–  Microcephaly (Transmission to unborn children)
–  Brain Malformations (Transmission to unborn children)
–  Guillain-Barre

The Virus

Flaviviridae [family] Flavivirus [genus]

Virus is enveloped and icosahedral with a  nonsegmented, single stranded RNA genome.

There are two “lines” or lineages of Zika – 1.) African and 2.) Asian

The virus spreading to Americas has been studied and is similar to African, but it is most closely related to the Asian strain that was found in French Polynesia (2013-2014)

Transmission of the Virus

Initially, the host was monkeys through a mosquito-monkey-mosquito cycle.

Initially transmission to humans was rare.

Infrequently, the host becomes a mosquito-human-mosquito cycle. The cause of this most recent Pandemic is unknown.

But like dengue, a similar arbovirus – the same species of mosquito vector is involved. The mosquito family involved is the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito is primarily active during daytime.

The virus has been found in other mosquito types but, at this point, they don’t seem to be a vector for transmission.

***But Zika can be transmitted from a man to his sex partners.

This has been seen in Argentina, France, United States, Italy, Chile, and New Zealand.

Zika has been transmitted from mother to unborn child.

Zika has been transmitted through Blood transfusions.

Diagnosis occurs in the following:

  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Saliva

Vaccine Development

No effective Vaccine is currently known

Other vaccines target other Flaviviridae family virus – like yellow fever, dengue fever, and others.




Travel Warnings

As of 2016, the CDC has issued travel recommendations and precautions for pregnant women.

Columbia, Jamaica, Ecuador, El Salvador and more countries have advised women to postpone pregnancy until more is known.

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