Why Zika virus infection has become a public health concern?

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Prior to 2015, Zika Virus (ZIKV) outbreaks had occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Although a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, such a connection has not yet been scientifically proven. In May 2015, the outbreak of ZIKV infection in Brazil led to reports of syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes; the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed ZIKV infection in Brazil. Currently, ZIKV outbreaks are ongoing and it will be difficult to predict how the virus will spread over time. ZIKV is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of infected mosquitos, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are the principle vectors of dengue, and ZIKV disease generally is reported to include symptoms associated with acute febrile illnesses that clinically resembles dengue fever. The laboratory diagnosis can be performed by using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on serum, viral nucleic acid and virus-specific immunoglobulin M. There is currently no vaccine and antiviral treatment available for ZIKV infection, and the only way to prevent congenital ZIKV infection is to prevent maternal infection. In February 2016, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) activated ZIKV as a Category V Notifiable Infectious Disease similar to Ebola virus disease and MERS.

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Chen, H. L., & Tang, R. B. (2016, April 1). Why Zika virus infection has become a public health concern? Journal of the Chinese Medical Association. Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcma.2016.03.001

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