Zika. Potential impact on Global Health and what we know in a nutshell

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Some experts claim, Brazil’s Zika virus outbreak may damage global health more than the Ebola virus ever did. The largest Ebola epidemic in West Africa has caused 28.638 cases with 11.315 deaths between December 2013 and January 2016.

Existed before the Brazil outbreak, but…

The Zika virus has recently been in the news with the outbreak in Brazil., causing devastating birth defects (an abnormally small head -“microcephaly”). It is the first time the virus is associated with such birth defects. CDC_Zika_microcephaly_comparison_640x368But the virus itself is not new at all. First identified in 1947 in monkeys of Zika forest in Uganda and later in 1952 in humans in Uganda and Tanzania.

The above map marks only the regions of the world where the virus is currently active. It is published and frequently updated by CDC (‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ -a US government organization).  Actually the virus is known to be in circulation for many years in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

With the recent discovery of virus being sexually transmissible, it is probably a matter of months, if not weeks, before it surfaces in Europe and other areas which are thought to be Zika-free areas.

No known treatment

World Health Organization (WHO) says, there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to fight the Zika virus.

Not only by mosquito bite

It is believed that Zika is mostly transmitted by mosquitoes. But recently someone in USA has contracted the disease after having sex with a person who had traveled to Venezuela, another epidemic area.

Symptoms, just in case…

WHO says, people with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and so called “pink eye” (inflammation of outermost layer of eye). These symptoms typically last for 2-7 days.

And WHO adds: ‘Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available’.


Go deeper:

Zika virus could be bigger global health threat than Ebola, say health experts Guardian

Zika Virus WHO