The invasion of the Zika virus has been everywhere in the news. The news tells us that it is transmitted to humans from the Aedes mosquito. The symptoms include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. The symptoms normally last for 2 – 7 days. There is scientific consensus that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.
However, this virus isn’t new this year. It has been in existence as far back as 1947. The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of the Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to the 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness. The first large outbreak of the disease caused by the Zika infection was reported from the island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. In July 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome. In October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika and microcephaly.
In Florida the Zika virus in three groups of mosquitoes trapped in Miami Beach. Authorities are blaming a particular flower for making mosquito control much more difficult.
One of the traps that tested positive was at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, where bromeliads bloom. The plants trap standing water in their cylindrical centers, providing an excellent breading area for mosquitoes amid their colorful flowers and pointy leaves.
A diagnosis of the Zika infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen. There is no vaccine available currently. And funding is running out to develop one!
Associated Press – Florida Blames Zika on Flower, Curt Anderson and Kelli Kennedy.
World Health Organization– The History of Zika Virus. WHO fact sheet, September 2016.