More and more news continues to surface about the Zika virus, yet there is much we do not know. I am including some links here from the US-based Centers for Disease Control. Because this current outbreak of Zika is occurring in northern South America, Central America, Mexico, and some of the islands in the Caribbean, there is ongoing concern in the US about pregnant women traveling to countries where the virus has been identified.
What we know:
"Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus transmitted primarily byAedes aegyptimosquitoes (1,2). These vectors also transmit dengue and chikungunya virus and are found throughout much of the Americas, including parts of the United States. An estimated 80% of persons infected with Zika virus are asymptomatic (2,3). Symptomatic disease is generally mild and characterized by acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or nonpurulent conjunctivitis. Symptoms usually last from several days to 1 week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and fatalities are rare. Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported in patients following suspected Zika virus infection (4-6).
Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester (4,7,8). The incidence of Zika virus infection in pregnant women is not currently known, and data on pregnant women infected with Zika virus are limited. No evidence exists to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible to Zika virus infection or experience more severe disease during pregnancy.
Maternal-fetal transmission of Zika virus has been documented throughout pregnancy (4,7,8). Although Zika virus RNA has been detected in the pathologic specimens of fetal losses (4), it is not known if Zika virus caused the fetal losses. Zika virus infections have been confirmed in infants with microcephaly (4), and in the current outbreak in Brazil, a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly has been reported (9). However, it is not known how many of the microcephaly cases are associated with Zika virus infection. Studies are under way to investigate the association of Zika virus infection and microcephaly, including the role of other contributory factors (e.g., prior or concurrent infection with other organisms, nutrition, and environment). The full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with Zika virus infections during pregnancy is unknown and requires further investigation."
" An estimated 80% of persons infected with Zika virus are asymptomatic (2,3). Symptomatic disease is generally mild and characterized by acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or nonpurulent conjunctivitis. Symptoms usually last from several days to 1 week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and fatalities are rare. Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported in patients following suspected Zika virus infection (4-6)." http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6502e1.htm
What we don't know:
Is Zika spread by breastfeeding? Good question. The CDC states, "To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found." Zika can, however, be spread through sexual contact and blood transfusion. http://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/index.html
Map showing countries in the Americas that have reported active Zika virus transmissions.
Whenever I receive updates from the CDC, WHO, or other reputable sources, I will share them with you.
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Last Updated: September 2018