About Zika Virus
The History and Spread of Zika
The Zika virus is making headlines all over the world, and creating fear among citizens of each affected and potentially affected areas. The fear is somewhat warranted because the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other governmental health agencies have placed the public on high alert regarding the potential impact of the Zika virus. In fact, the WHO has declared Zika “an international health emergency”.
Brazil is Zika ground-zero for the Americas. Zika began to raise concerns with public health officials in Brazil around mid-2015 when multiple cases of microcephaly appeared in new born babies leaving them with severe skull deformities and underdeveloped brains. More and more cases began to spring up throughout the balance of 2015 and into 2016, and the disease continues to spread through the Americas and Caribbean, and headed towards the United States this summer.
Once the Zika virus was identified, researchers knew immediately that mosquitoes were the vectors of this disease, particularly mosquitoes of the group Aedes. Aedes aegypti and albopictus, a.k.a. the Yellow Fever mosquito, and the Asian Tiger mosquito, are the primary culprits in the spread of this disease. Researchers knew these facts because Zika virus is not a new exotic disease, and it was first identified in Uganda, Africa in 1947, with the first human case discovered in 1952. So how did Zika arrive in Brazil?
The most likely way Zika was introduced into the Americas occurred via air travel from Pacific Island visitors, possibly dating back to 2013 when an international soccer tournament was held in Brazil. The original virus strain that hit Brazil has been traced to the French Polynesian Island outbreak and is not the African strain. Subsequent Zika carriers arrived in 2014 for the World Cup Soccer matches held at 12 venues throughout the country that year. Now with the Summer Olympic Games only months away, the concern is that more countries will become infected with Zika mosquitoes with a glut of tourists and athletes from all over the world in attendance, and then returning home. The only positive news is that it will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere during the Summer Olympics, and mosquito populations should be lower.
Find out the lastest on Zika from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).