Over the last couple of days, we were all bombarded with information regarding the spread of a new contagious agent called the Zika virus. While the pathogen isn’t as deadly as Ebola, but the disease has been known to cause severe birth defects. Here is an update on the Zika outbreak.
- Zika fever is very similar to Dengue Fever;
- Many cases have been reported in South Africa, South Asia, Polynesia, Central America and South America;
- CDC reported one case of Zika in the United States;
- Zika can induce microcephaly in infants;
- Women from El Salvador are asked to postpone their pregnancies until 2018;
- PAHO issued a travel alert for 24 countries.
For a short while, it seemed that the pathogen was reported in several countries from South Africa, in South Asia, and in Polynesia, but it seems that the Zika virus managed to escape the quarantine and make its way over the ocean. Presently, there the health authorities reported two new niduses, one in Central America and another one in South America.
Due to the rapid rate of transmission, the Pan American Health Organization has been alerted. Moreover, fearing that this could easily turn into a pandemic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert for approximately 24 countries, including Haiti, Honduras, Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador and several others.
According to the medical literature, the Zika virus is the main culprit in the case of the Zika fever, which, in term of symptoms, bears a striking resemblance to other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, yellow fever, West Nile or Japanese encephalitis.
Further research has determined that the disease is mainly transmitted by two species of mosquitos, the Aedes aegypti, and the Aedes albopictus. The virus capable of inducing this disease in humans was thought to be endemic to tropical areas, fact refuted by the recent outbreaks of Zika fever.
Historically speaking, the virus and the disease are both known since the early 50s. At that time, it was thought that the virus is only endemic to the equatorial belt that links Africa and Asia.
What are the symptoms of Zika fever? According to Zika’s symptomatology, the disease debuts with a low-grade fever, followed by conjunctivitis, joint pains (arthralgia). The initial symptoms are also accompanied by a maculopapular rash, which initially appears on the face, ultimately spreading to the rest of the body.
According to the latest research, it would seem that the disease could be responsible for a birth defect called microcephaly (the infant’s head doesn’t develop properly). For this reason, the country of El Salvador has cautioned all fertile women to postpone pregnancy until 2018, fearing that the virus could ultimately lead to more cases of microcephaly.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, Zika virus is known to have more severe manifestation. According to the medical literature on the matter, patients infected with the Zika virus can also display hemorrhagic-like symptoms in the form of hematospermia, or blood found in sperm.
Moreover, according to recent research, the Zika virus can lead to another disease called the Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is characterized by rapid and steady degeneration of the peripheral nervous system. Guillain-Barre also causes muscle weakness and, in time, can lead to paralysis.
In terms of prevention, the health authorities from Brazil have requested the help of the army in order to contain the virus. So far, approximately 492 cases have been reported in the country and the authorities are coordinating in order to stop the infection from spreading. On the other hand, El Salvador decided to take radical measures in order to minimize the effect of Zika fever.
The health authorities from El Salvador have urged all fertile women to postpone their pregnancies until 2018. This move is prompted by the fact that, in some cases, the Zika virus can be transmitted from mother to infant, causing a birth defect known as microcephaly.
Concerning the update on the Zika virus outbreak, the authorities are still struggling to keep the disease in check. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the Zika fever. However, the doctors can use certain drugs in order to keep in check the manifestations of Guillain-Barre syndrome.