Horrible Comeback of the Zika Virus
Humanity has suffered from different viruses and infections. Zika virus is one of them, but it seemed to be forgotten. For almost a century, it did not attract the attention of medical community. However, the 21st century presented people with the horrible comeback of the virus. Zika virus has shocked people around the globe with its rapid growth and link with microcephaly. Evidence suggests that the virus is associated with the defects in children and neurological problems in adults. Although many people do not even suspect that they are infected, they are active transmitters of the virus and pose a threat to others. The Zika virus infection is the health-related disaster that struck in different parts of the world and is associated with numerous negative outcomes.
Zika virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitos
However, blood transfusion transmission and sexual transmission have also been reported. It was first discovered in the Uganda Zika forest in 1947. Until 2007, there were only 14 reported cases of the Zika virus infection (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015). As the virus did not pose much threat to human, it was not on the watch list. In addition, it was not a reportable disease in the coutnires such as the USA and the UK. Doctors did not find that it was necessary to alert people as there are many other serious diseases that require increased public attention. Health authorities did not anticipate the Zika virus outbreak and were not prepared to it.
In 2007, the first big outbreak occurred in Micronesia as there were 49 documented cases. Then, the virus began to spread further. It was common in Asia and Africa, but since 2014, it began to spread in Brazil and other countries (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015). In 2015, there were nearly 30 infant deaths and more than 2,400 cases of microcephaly in Brazil. The Zika virus cases were reported in 14 states (Kirk, 2016).
The virus disease is caused by an RNA virus that is transmitted to humans by mosquitos of the Aedes aegypti species. Nearly 80% of the infections are asymptomatic. It means that infected people do not have any symptoms. As a rule, the infection has no or mild symptoms and does not cause any lasting harm. Many people, infected with the virus, think that they have a mild form of dengue fever. Specific attention should be focused on the women infected while pregnancy and those who develop a temporary paralysis form after the Zika virus exposure. Only 20% of people infected have symptoms (Chatterjee, 2016). Typical clinical symptoms of the virus infection occur after a 4-12 day period of incubation and presuppose rash, law grade fever, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis. Unfortunately, medical management is only supportive and does not substantially help a patient to become completely treated (Kirk, 2016). Diagnostic antibody tests tend to provide false positive results due to the cross reaction against related viruses. In the past, Zika virus was not linked to death, congenital CNS anomalies, GBS, and intra-uterine infections. However, after the virus outbreak in French Polynesia, the scientists began to report possible association between the virus and GBS (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015).
Between 2013 and 2014, the virus began to spread across the Pacific Ocean to the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Easter Island. In 2015, it spread to Central America, the South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. In these regions, the virus outbreak has reached the pandemic levels (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015). When the virus reached Brazil, it flared into an epidemic as the number of infected people was over 1.5 million. In 2015, the country has documented a 2,301 increase in the microcephaly case number. However, many cases should still be confirmed as Brazil still struggles to cope with the Zika rapid advance (Kirk, 2016). The virus reached the USA in January 2015. It was transmitted by a patient who arrived from Latin America. Some other countries in South America have been experiencing fast increase of the virus. For example, Columbia has documented over 2,100 pregnant local women infected with Zika (Kirk, 2016).
In January 2016, the autochthonous virus infection cases were reported in 23 countries around the globe, including Bolivia, Guyana, Barbados, French Guiana, Honduras, Panama, Brazil, Paraguay, Thailand, Cape Verde, Samoa, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Martinique, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela. The epidemic is still present in the USA (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015). In February 2016, the Zika virus epidemic was announced to be the global public health emergency. According to WHO, a microcephaly epidemic among Brazilian children has been caused by Zika virus. The virus was spreading fast and it threatened Latin America. The WHO claimed that Zika is the virus of the same category as Ebola (Chatterjee, 2016).
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Although there is little information about the relation between the virus and microcephaly, infected pregnant women face the risk of the abnormal development of the brain in the fetus due to the virus transmission (Campos, Bandeira, & Sardi, 2015). However, Zika has a link between some neurologic conditions in infected adults, for example, Guillain-Barré syndrome.
It is possible to detect the virus in blood for nearly two weeks by nucleic acid tests. The virus infection rarely causes death. In 2016, there are still no vaccines or drugs that can prevent Zika. Many researchers in the USA and other countries unite their efforts working on a vaccine. However, experts claim that this process can take several years (Kirk, 2016).
Zika virus epidemic can be reduced through the use of strategies and preventive measures
The strategies of efficient public communication and intersectoral collaboration will ensure increased participation of community to unite the efforts in the sustainable vector control program. In addition, it may be effective to encourage activities to reduce the sites of mosquito breeding by draining or discarding the standing water sources. It is advised to use insecticide sprays during the outbreaks of adult mosquito elimination. Moreover, the virus prevention presupposes personal protection against mosquito bites. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are most blamed for the virus transmission, reproduce in stagnant water. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that large puddles and ponds are filled in. Proactive approaches are considered to be beneficial to every country that faces with the Zika virus infection.
Zika is an old virus that has not significantly bothered humans since 1947. The worst feature that makes the virus difficult to track is the absence of symptoms in most cases. Infected people even do not realize that they are ill and continue to transmit the disease. In rare cases, Zika virus causes serious problems, for example, Guillain-Barre symptoms, neurological condition, immune system damage, microcephaly, and others. The spread of the virus may be referred to as a part of an unnerving trend. It is related to the fact that some tropical illnesses transmitted by mosquitos have lately been spreading into regions around the globe that have never experienced them. Hence, scientific community cannot fully explain this situation. However, there is a belief that the increasing popularity of global travel and global warming have something related to the change. Although the virus is considered to be a severe one, there is still hope that scientists will develp effective medicine to treat it.