Zika Virus is a disease transmitted by mosquito bites which started in South America and now has reached the United States. Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil and on Feb 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas.
Infection with this condition results in usually mild symptoms including fever, muscle aches, rash and conjunctivitis (eye inflammation). More serious neurological diseases have been associated with the Zika virus. The disease is transmitted primarily by mosquito bites. There has however been one case identified where the disease was transmitted by sexual contact.
The Center for Disease Control has announced that there have been 3 confirmed cases of Zika virus in pregnant woman in Florida. Zika may result in newborns with brain / head defects. None of the infected patients were believed to have been infected in the USA.
A Zika information hot-line is now available to answer questions. 856-622-6735
Two additional cases of Zika have been confirmed in Florida. 20 total. 7 in Miami Dade. The CDC confirmed that the virus can be transmitted from man to female by sexual intercourse. If men may have been exposed during travel the CDC suggests condoms be worn during sexual intercourse with pregnant partners.
The Zika virus has been associated with microcephalia, small heads in newborns, and other neurological diseases. As of February 9, 2016 there have been 9 confirmed cases of Zika virus in South Florida causing the Governor to declare this matter a “Health care emergency”.
The best way to prevent catching the Zika virus in Miami is to avoid getting bit by mosquito. Therefore it is recommended that you avoid areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes such as areas with stagnant water, wear sufficient protective clothing and use mosquito repellent when you leave your home.
Felipe L. Cubas, MD