The Zika virus, which arrived in the Americas in 2014 but only began to make an impact last May in Brazil, has spread with remarkable rapidity across South and Central America, and is now making inroads into the Caribbean.
Last night, the CDC announced that Puerto Rico has detected their first case, while below you'll find an updated list from PAHO of the countries now affected.
Countries and territories with autochthonous transmission. Epidemiological Week 52 - 2015
Brazil Colombia Chile (Eastern Island) El Salvador French Guiana Guatemala Honduras Martinique Mexico Panama Puerto Rico Paraguay Suriname Venezuela
Like Chikungunya, and Dengue before it, the Zika virus has found a hospitable climate, a susceptible population, and one or more competent vectors (Aedes Mosquitoes) in the Americas and is able to spread with remarkable efficiency.
Although the illness produced by the Zika virus is generally milder than Dengue, in recent months maternal infection with the virus during the 1st and 2nd trimester has been tentatively linked to severe birth defects (see Post-Zika Outbreak Spike In Congenital Abnormalities In Brazil & French Polynesia) and rare cases of Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS).
The Puerto Rico Department of Health reported today the first locally acquired case of Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico. Zika was confirmed in a resident of Puerto Rico with no known travel history. CDC is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health to investigate how the patient may have contracted the virus. Health officials in Puerto Rico are monitoring for other cases of Zika virus infection.
Media StatementFor Immediate Release: Thursday, December 31, 2015
Contact: Media Relations (404) 639-3286
CDC has issued a travel notice advising people traveling to Puerto Rico to take usual precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites to reduce their risk of infection with Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue and chikungunya. These steps include wearing insect repellent, using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when possible, and emptying standing water inside and outside the home.
Zika virus, originally identified in 1947 from Zika forest of Uganda, is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are found throughout tropical regions of the world and are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Mosquitoes become infected with the Zika virus when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus infection.
Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. To date, Zika virus has been reported in several countries and territories in the Americas. Brazil is investigating the possible association between Zika virus infection and cases of microcephaly (smaller than expected head size) in infants.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Infection is thought to provide lifelong immunity. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Deaths are rare. Travelers returning from areas with Zika activity (see map) should seek medical care if they experience a fever and symptoms of infection. Health care providers in areas with reported cases should be on the alert for possible cases.
For more information about the Zika case in Puerto Rico:
For more information about Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
- Pan American Health Organization: http://www.salud.gov.pr/Pages/Home.aspx
For more information about preventing mosquito bites, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites
For information on the possible association between Zika virus infection and microcephay: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/possible-association-between-zika-virus-and-microcephaly.pdf