Zika virus (ZIKV) is a Flavivirus. It is a mosquito borne disease spread by daytime active Aedes mosquitoes – A. aegypti and A. albopictus. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Zika virus is related to the dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.
Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. But from 2007 to 2016, the virus has spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.
The infection Zika fever or Zika virus disease often causes no symptoms or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever.
While there are no known medications or vaccine for the illness, antipyretics like paracetamol (acetaminophen) and rest may help.
Zika can also spread from a pregnant woman to her foetus. This can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects in the child. Zika infections in adults may result rarely in Guillain–Barré syndrome.
In January 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance for affected countries. This included the use of enhanced precautions, and guidelines for pregnant women considering postponing travel. Other governments or health agencies also issued similar travel warnings. Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica went to the extent of advising women to postpone getting pregnant until more is known about the risks.
Zika can be transmitted from men and women to their sexual partners. CDC recommends the length of precaution for couples, and advises that heterosexual couples with men who have confirmed Zika fever or symptoms of Zika should consider using condoms or not having penetrative sex (i.e., vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, or fellatio) for at least 6 months after symptoms begin. This includes men who live in—and men who traveled to—areas with Zika. Couples with men who traveled to an area with Zika, but did not develop symptoms of Zika, should consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after their return in order to minimize risk. Couples with men who live in an area with Zika, but have not developed symptoms, might consider using condoms or not having sex while there is active Zika transmission in the area.
It can be transmitted through blood transfusion thus a screening of blood donors is required if they are coming from a Zika active area.