Zika Virus Updates
Though it has already been a while since news about the Zika Virus started to take the internet by storm, this virus continues to spread in various parts of the world, terrifying many.
Zika is considered a mild disease, less serious than dengue. However, though many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick and among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week, there are still a few concerns to be taken into consideration, microcephaly in the unborn fetuses of pregnant women and developing GBS for example.
Microcephaly is a congenital condition that manifests itself as birth defects in which a baby is born with significantly smaller heads than usual while Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. Current CDC research suggests that GBS is strongly associated with Zika; however, only a small proportion of people with recent Zika virus infection get GBS.
According to BBC News, a new modelling study carried out by researchers from a range of institutions, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and the University of Torontosuggests the virus could spread, via air travel, possibly placing two billionat risk in Africa and Asia. In the Region of the Americas, 45 countries and territories have confirmed local, vector-borne transmission of Zika virus disease since 2015 while five countries in the Americas have reported sexually transmitted Zika cases.Additionally, since the last Zika Epidemiological Update of 11 August 2016, no additional countries or territories in the Americas have confirmed vector-borne autochthonous transmission of Zika virus.
In Asia, though, there has been a local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) reported in Singapore. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.
The study mentioned earlier, which was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, estimates that areas of Africa and South and East Asia, where mosquito-spread diseases are already prevalent (i.e., dengue and malaria), could boost the spread of infection. Countries which have a “perfect storm” combination of high population, high mosquito activity as well as underfunded health services may be predominantly susceptible such as India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The study also emphasizes the fact that, because of air travel, viruses once confined to remote corners of the globe now have the potential to spread quickly. So, for one who is travelling to a part of the world where any mosquito borne disease is widespread, it is important to take the correct precautions.
About the research
As said earlier, the research was carried out by researchers from a range of institutions, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and the University of Toronto and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of the authors are employees of BlueDot, which is a company that offers analysis of potential global disease threats.
Basically, the study considered three different aspects to identify the areas which are most susceptible to the virus: air transportation, mosquito occurrences and Zika transmission. Specifically, they used data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), observations made of the main mosquito species that carry Zika, and climate conditions using WorldClim, which is a free collection of data sets on past, current and predicted climate trends.