The Rise of Zika

By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, Medical Discovery News

Have you noticed in the past few years, we seem to be continuously assaulted by microbial menaces? Some years back it was SARS, which set off a global panic. People were screened for fevers at many major international airports. Then came the West Nile virus, which started from a single case in New York and in a matter of years marched across the U.S. Who can forget the avian flu or swine flu, which happened around the same time? More recently, the MERS virus has emerged, with outbreaks in the Arabian Peninsula and then whole villages in Korea. We are just now reaching the end of the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Even if you’re not an alarmist, it’s hard to ignore the threat of these new microbial menaces.

The latest is one that we are beginning to know well is Zika. While it sounds like the name of a modern Scandinavian rock band, this virus was first isolated in 1947 in Uganda. It emerged in the Pacific Islands before it spread to Brazil, and it’s rapidly spreading through two dozen countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Now, cases of Zika have been confirmed in the U.S. and Europe in people who have recently traveled to an outbreak area where the virus is spreading. Individuals can also become infected after direct contact with someone who has just returned from one of these areas. What makes public health officials in America highly concerned about this virus is that it is spread by mosquitoes called Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that are common in the eastern and southeastern United States.

There is accumulating evidence that Zika infection in pregnant women —> Read More