Over the last few days I received many calls from various citizens concerned about the Zika virus. So far there are no reported cases in Kenya, but the relevant authorities are exercising enhanced surveillance and sharing information with global agencies.
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.
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.Deaths are rare.Diagnosis
Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples. Diagnosis by serology can be difficult as the virus can cross-react with other flaviviruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.Key facts
Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
The World Health Organization has warned that the Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and that as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged pregnant women against travel to about two dozen countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the outbreak is growing.
The infection appears to be linked to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns. Some pregnant women who have been to these regions should be tested for the infection, the agency said.Take a fertility test today