Zika virus

The Zika virus is a virus  from the flaviviridae family transmitted by a day-time mosquito. The virus was first isolated in the Zika forest of Uganda, this explains why it’s called this way.

Transmission

At first the mosquitos transmitted this desease to monkeys, however when the pandemic started in 2007 it’s pray changed focusing primarily on humans. The main transmitter, is in order to lay eggs, the female mosquito. This fenommenon mostly affects ecuatorian locations, such as central America, northern to central Africa and India.

This desease can be sexually transmitted. There have been two cases to prove this theory. The first case happened in 2014, Zika virus capable of reproducing itself was found in the semen of a man at least two weeks after he fell ill with Zika fever. The second case was that of a biologist who whilst studying this fenommenon was bitten variouis times, few weeks upon retourning to his hometown he developed the desease, though before this, he had sexual intercourse with his wife, though transmiting the desease to her.

Zika virus infection can be spread by yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), and experimental evidence suggests the virus also can be transmitted by Asian tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus). Aedes mosquitoes have a wide and expanding global distribution, including in the United States. To predict places around the world where Zika virus might spread, scientists are studying the climate influence in their migration.

How does it affect pregnant women?

There is a lot of concern about a potential link between pregnant women getting the virus and their babies being born with unusually small heads – a condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly is the result of the brain developing abnormally while the foetus is in the womb or after the baby’s birth. Brazil’s ministry of health has blamed a rise in microcephaly cases on the Zika virus. It also appears that Zika infection during pregnancy may damage babies’ vision. A very small study has linked the virus to serious eye abnormalities in babies. The observed effects appear to be different from those doctors usually see in babies born with microcephaly from other causes (like rubella or toxoplasmosis).

It’s not yet clear if babies born with normal-sized heads but who were still exposed to Zika may also have this eye defect, so researchers are continuing to look into this relationship. Some research has found Zika in the brain of babies with microcephaly whose mothers contracted Zika during pregnancy, and other research has noted the virus genome in the saliva, blood and urine of mothers who had microcephalic babies. Another small study also reported Zika antibodies in the amniotic fluid of two pregnant women, which suggests the virus is able to cross the placenta. Both women also tested negative for the virus in their blood and urine samples, and their babies were born with microcephaly.

Prevention

During the first week of infection, Zika can be passed from person to person through mosquito bites. To help prevent others from getting sick, infected individuals have to avoid mosquito bites during the week of illness. There is currently no vaccine available, so the only way to prevent infection is by avoiding mosquito bites. At the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland, scientists are creating different versions of a DNA-based vaccine, if any vaccine candidate looks good in animal tests, it could then go for initial safety testing in people. After that, scientists somehow have to show that the immune response elicited by the vaccine will actually protect people from getting infected with Zika. The countries affected by the Zika virus outbreak include Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and 20 other mostly Latin American states. Zika was first detected in 1947 in Uganda in monkeys and was subsequently identified in humans in 1952. For decades it caused only mild diseases across Africa and equatorial Asia.

Related news

  • Public health officials in El Salvador have advised women to delay pregnancy for the next two years to prevent children from developing birth defects from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.  Eduardo Espinoza, the country’s vice-minister of public health, said on Thursday that women who were already pregnant should stay covered outdoors to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.  “We’d like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next,” he said. The government decided to make the announcement after 5,397 cases of the Zika virus were detected in El Salvador in 2015 and the first few days of this year, Espinoza said.(http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/zika-virus-160128151737561.html)
  • The mosquito-borne Zika virus may infect up to four million people, the World Health Organization said, as the agency convened to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said in a statement on Thursday that the level of alarm was “extremely high”. “Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively. As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the region,” Chan said. “Arrival of the virus in some places has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and [with] cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome.” The syndrome can cause temporary paralysis. (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/mosquito-born-zika-virus-spreading-explosively-160128130744449.html)

Presentation

For a more visual explication watch this Zika Virus presentation

Conclusion

After investigating and seriously thinking about this issue, our most important concern is finding a vaccine and a cure to this illness as soon as posible. The repercusions this illness is leaving in our society is dreadful. A whole generation of South American children are suffering from this mosquito-bite illness. Quite true that through out history there have been many similar illnesses, but sadly during those times, finding a cure was imposible and many people had to suffer the consequences of nature’s laws. However nowadays with our technological and medical resources, we are hopeful that soon enough a solution will flower and we will be able to stop Zika from expanding.

Sadly the repercusions of Zika’s virus are been suffered by a country who already has enough social and political problems as it is. These government will have to add Zika to their list of preocupations which most certainly isn’t growing any shorter. We, as they probably do, hope they will be supported by all; the scientific community, politicians, and the whole of society. They most certainly have all of our support. There have been worse situations going on in the world and they have been solved, we are positive it will happen in the same way for them too.

Elvira Morard   1ºBach C

Candela Jiménez Mercado   1ºBach C

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