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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Zika Fever Spreading Outside Africa

The French Polynesia Department of Health said as of 3 Dec 2013, there have been 99 laboratory confirmed cases and 35 000 suspected cases of Zika fever reported. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported.
Zika fever is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus related to yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses; but it produces a comparatively mild disease in humans. It was first isolated from an infected rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947.
Symptoms of Zika fever may include fever, headache, red eyes, rash, muscle aches, and joint pains. The illness is usually mild and lasts 4-7 days.
Some experts note that because the virus has spread outside Africa and Asia, ZIKV should be considered an emerging pathogen.
ZIKV illness to date has been mild and self-limited, but before West Nile virus caused large outbreaks of neuroinvasive disease in Romania and in North America, it was also considered to be a relatively innocuous pathogen, some experts warn.
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika fever. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
The extent and intensity of the Zika virus outbreak on French Polynesia is much greater than in previous reports.  Cases have occurred in New Caledonia, and it would not be surprising if cases begin to appear in other Pacific Islands as well.
A CDC report states the extent that Zika virus transmission is occurring in French Polynesia: "The French Polynesia Department of Health has confirmed an outbreak of Zika fever in Tahiti and the other islands that make up the country (Tahaa, Uturoa, Bora-Bora, Taiohae, and Arutua). Several hundred cases are suspected. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported." (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/zika-fever-french-polynesia-tahiti).

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