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Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is only but a few days.

  • Genre: Flavivirus
  • Vector: Aedesmosquitoes (which usually bite during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours)

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include microcephally (small head and small brain) in new born, fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pains, malaise, and headache.


Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.


Areas with active mosquito-borne transmission of Zika Virus

  • Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa (Cape Verde)., Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
  • In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil and Columbia
  • Zika virus has been reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and America Samoa.
  • Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.


Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history (e.g. residence or travel to an area where Zika virus is known to be present). Zika virus diagnosis would thereafter be confirmed by laboratory testing for the presence of Zika virus RNA in the blood or other body fluids, such as urine or saliva.


  1. This can be done by using insect repellent regularly; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible.
  2. Using physical barriers such as window screens, closed doors and windows; sleeping under mosquito nets during the day/night.
  3. It is extremely important to empty mosquito breeding sites, such as containers that store water, like buckets, drums, pots, flower pots, used tyres and roof gutters etc.
  4. Use repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), IR3535 (3-[N-acetyl-N-butyl]-aminopropionic acid ethyl ester) or icaridin (1-piperidinecarboxylic acid, 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-methylpropylester).
  5. Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.
  6. Fumigation or Spraying of insecticides should be carried out.
  7. Travellers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.


Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus are usually recommended plenty of rest, oral or intravenous fluid replacement, and prophylactic therapeutics with over the counter medicines. There is currently no vaccine available.


Zika Virus: History, Signs, Prevention and Treatment

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