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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-8

Zika virus disease


Department of Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Adel I Al-Afaleq
Department of Environmental Health, University of Dammam, P.O. Box 1982, Dammam 31441
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1658-631X.194260

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The Zika virus is an arbovirus belonging to the virus family Flaviviridae. The virus was isolated in 1947 from a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda. The virus causes sporadic mild human infections in Africa and later in Asia. However, by 2007 a major shift in its infection pattern was noticed and thousands of human infections were reported in the State of Yap and Federated States of Micronesia. In the last 3 years, major outbreaks have continued to occur and the virus has spread to several Pacific and American countries. These outbreaks were mostly asymptomatic; however, there were more severe clinical signs associated with the infections. Those signs included microcephaly and Guillain–Barre syndrome. It is believed that various species of mosquitoes can biologically transmit the virus. However, Aedes aegypti is most widely associated with the Zika virus. Recently, new modes of virus transmission have been reported, including mother-to-fetus, sexual, blood transfusion, animal bites, laboratory exposure and breast milk. Differential diagnosis is very important as some other arboviruses such as yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, dengue virus, and chikungunya virus have similar clinical manifestations to the Zika virus infection as well as relating serologically to some of these viruses. Established laboratory diagnostic tests to detect the Zika virus are limited, with reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction being the most widely used test. Taking into consideration the quickness of the spread of infection, size of the infected population and change of the infection severity pattern, the Zika virus infection merits collective efforts on all levels to prevent and control the disease. Limited research work and data, concurrent infection with other arboviruses, involvement of biological vectors, mass crowd events, human and trade movements and lack of vaccines are some of the challenges that we face in our efforts to prevent and control the Zika virus infection.


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