The Pan American Health Organization has recently published an Epidemiological Alert (December 3, 2015) for Zika virus and its correlation to more serious neurological and autoimmune diseases. Zika virus is a tropical, mosquito-borne illness that typically presents with mild symptoms. The transmission, treatment and prevention strategies of Zika virus are outlined below.
About 75% of people that contract the Zika virus will have symptoms. Typical symptoms of Zika virus fever, which will occur between 3 and 12 days after the bite of an infected mosquito, include:
- mild fever
- rash (small, raised bumps on a patch of flat, pink skin)
- joint pain
- muscle pain
- muscle weakness
- non-purulent conjunctivitis (pink eyes with no pus)
The disease will run its course in 4-7 days.
Although most cases of the disease are mild, neurological and autoimmune complications have recently been identified in outbreaks in French Polynesia (2014) and Brazil (2015). More research is required to confirm causation, but a correlation has been identified between an increase in microcephaly (smaller head size and incomplete brain development in newborns) and Guillain-Barré syndrome in populations that have experienced Zika outbreaks.
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