The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne viral illness. This virus was first identified in 1947 in a rhesus monkey in Uganda. It was identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. The Zika virus is in the Flavivirus family, the same family of viruses that cause Japanese encephalitis, West Nile fever and Yellow Fever.
How is Zika virus infection transmitted? Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Infected pregnant women can transmit the virus to the fetus. There are no reports of transmission from mother to baby through breast feeding. Spread of the virus through sexual contact and blood transfusion has also been reported.
What are the symptoms?
People who are infected with Zika virus typically experience acute onset of the following symptoms:
- Fever, lethargy
- Skin rashes
- Conjunctivitis (eye redness)
- Muscle and joint pain
Outbreaks of Zika virus have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. There is currently an ongoing Zika virus outbreak in the Americas. The CDC has currently issued a level 2 alert for international travelers advising enhanced precautions for all travelers to affected destinations. The following websites are your best source of current information for travel guidance and recommendations.
• CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/zika
• WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/