Many of us don’t know anything about this Zika virus and some of us might have heard the name for the first time. Though the virus has been on the loss in Latin American regions especially in Brazil where it has caused quiet a lot of panic recently. The tropical disease caused by the virus has breached Puerto Rico and is ready to hit the mainland of United States. The virus causes congenital condition of microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and the concerning point is that the disease has no major symptoms. The patient might display a flu-like illness that only lasts from a couple of days to a week’s time.
The sickness caused by a mosquito is also said to be part of the other bizarre diseases in various areas with no previous track record. Diseases like chikungunya, West Nile and dengue are included and their spread is mind boggling. Zika virus was originated by Pan America Health Organization (PAHO) in May 2015 in Brazil. Here in last year alone, over 1.5 million people have been affected by the virus and its a speculation that it might have come with the people who traveled for the World Cup in the year 2014.
Zika virus was originated back in 1947 in Uganda and is named after “Zika Forest” where it was discovered. It has not done any damage since its discovery till the year 2007 where there were 20 cases reported following local outbreaks in South Pacific and French Polynesia. Until last year this virus was mainly limited to the continents of Africa and Asia. However, has made its appearance in the Western Hemisphere starting from Brazil where it has infected over a hundred million residents.
From Brazil it has made its way to Puerto Rico spreading from Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia and the associated areas. On 31st December 2015 the first case of Zika virus was confirmed in the United States in Puerto Rico and it was designated as a local transmission which means that a mosquito carrying Zika virus was found in the locality because the patient didn’t travel to any area in the past. Though many travelers have been diagnosed with this virus as well, there is no other case that has been confirmed due to local transmission of the virus in the mainland United States.
Primarily the virus is transmitted from one individual to another through the bite of an infected mosquito of Aedes species either A. aegypti or A. albopictus. The same species causes the spread of chikungunya and dengue viruses as well. The mosquitoes of Aedes species typically lay eggs in or near stagnant water in things like animal dishes, buckets, bowls, vases and flower pots. Theses mosquitoes live near people as they prefer to bite them and are aggressive biter that continue to be active in day time. They get infected by biting a person already caring the virus in the blood and can carry it to other person, resulting in spread of the disease.
There are numerous reported cases of transmission of the virus through transfusion of blood or sexual contact.
A mother who is infected with this virus can transfer it to the baby at the time of delivery however, this case is rare. Though the possibility of passing on the virus from mother to the child during pregnancy is there as well and studies are being conducted to explore this scenario. Nevertheless, there are no reported cases of transfer of Zika virus through breastfeeding.
In many cases the virus has only caused a general rash just like in any normal case of mosquito-bite. Fever, headaches and some pain in the bones is also experienced which might last for 3 days to a week. One out of four people might not develop any of the symptoms all together. Hence the virus carries no major symptoms and there might be some flu-like sickness that can be experienced and nothing else.