Four reasons why we shouldn’t forget about Zika

A group of researchers investigating yellow fever, in 1947, discovered a new virus in a sick monkey – the Zika virus. The researchers probably never imagined that nearly 70 years later this virus would rapidly spread across several continents, forcing the World Health Organisation to declare the Zika epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern”.

Zika is a small RNA virus, considered to be the cousin of other well-known viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can also transmit other related viruses such as chikungunya.

During the epidemic, we learned that Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact and, in exceptional cases, through bodily fluids such as tears. It is estimated that around 80% of people infected with the Zika virus experience no symptoms or suffer a very mild disease (low-grade fever, skin rash and muscle pain). But Zika became infamous when it was discovered to be associated with a dramatic increase in babies born with microcephaly (an abnormally small head) in Brazil, and in adults developing Guillain-Barré syndrome.

In recent months, there has been a decline in news coverage, but here are four reasons why we shouldn’t forget about Zika:

  1. The epidemic is not over
  2. Zika doesn’t just cause microcephaly
  3. Adults can experience more than just mild fever
  4. The social impact of Zika has been devastating

To read the full article by HPRU EZI PhD student Raquel Medialdea-Carrera, see the article published on The Conversation.

 Zika Awareness Poster

Zika awareness poster in Rio de Janerio, Brazil

Posted on: 18/04/2017