The Zika virus initially was thought to be a relatively harmless illness until a connection between Zika virus in pregnant women and child born with severe defects, microcephaly, and a notable rise in a somewhat rare neurological illness Gillian Barre syndrome became apparent.
The first case of the Zika virus detected in humans was in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. As time marched on so did the Zika virus, outbreaks of the virus began appearing in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. And even though Zika was only presenting a mild illness in the humans that contracted the virus, its rapid spread was beginning to get the attention of researchers. After the first major outbreak of Zika infections was reported in the Island of Yap in 2007, studies of the virus were ramped up. In July of 2015, it was Brazil that first reported the connection between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Later that same year (2015) Brazil reported an apparent association between the Zika virus and increased rates of severe birth defects and microcephaly in children who were born to mothers that had contracted Zika during their pregnancy.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded (based on literature and data collected and reviewed up till May 30, 2016) that the Zika virus is in fact the cause of severe birth defects, brain abnormalities, microcephaly, and a trigger for the onset of Guillain Barre Syndrome. Increased intensive studies have been and will continue to be conducted to further investigate the link between the Zika virus infection and a growing range of neurological disorders and other Zika associated abnormalities.
Other Measures The CDC Is Taking To Help Fight The Zika Virus
- Educating the general public about Zika.
- Mapping out the spread of Zika across the continents chronologically.
- Training special “disease detectives” to locate and record cases of Zika where ever they appear.
- Training healthcare providers how to identify the signs and symptoms of the Zika virus.
- Providing CDC approved laboratories with diagnostic tests and testing the collected samples.
- Increasing continued research into the connection between the Zika virus infection and the severe birth defects and Guillain Barre Syndrome now seen since the beginning of the Zika outbreaks.
- Putting out travel advisories informing the public on areas of travel experiencing Zika outbreaks and the precautions you should take to avoid contracting Zika if you must travel to those regions.
- Publishing advisories to the public with the latest information on the Zika virus as the information becomes available.
- Providing on the ground support for areas that are experiencing a Zika outbreak.
- Conducting studies to evaluate the longevity of the Zika virus in the blood, semen and urine of males in the United States.
- The CDC is awarding needed funding to various public health partners i.e. local health departments to respond to Zika and to prepare for future anticipated outbreaks.
- The various health organizations, including the CDC, have pledged to share the knowledge and insights they collect with one another whether it comes from research or on the ground, real time information at outbreak locations.