Facts about Zika Virus: What is Zika?


Zika virus is a mosquito-borne Flavivirus closely related to dengue virus. It was first isolated from a rhesus macaque monkey in Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947, in mosquitoes (Aedes africanus) in the same forest in 1948 and in humans in Nigeria in 1954.

Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

In May, 2015, the World Health Organization Pan American Health Organization (WHO PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.

In December 2015, the Ministry of Health Brazil reported a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of microcephaly of unknown cause in areas affected by Zika virus outbreak.

As at 29 January 2016, World Health Organization (WHO) reported outbreaks of Zika virus in 22 countries.

Infographic: Zika Symptoms and Transmissions

Infographic: What is Zika? How is Zika transmitted? Symptoms of Zika virus disease?
Infographic: What is Zika? How is Zika transmitted? Symptoms of Zika virus disease?

Quick Facts

  • Illness or infection caused by Zika virus is known as Zika virus disease or Zika fever.

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

  • Zika virus is transmitted to people through an infected Aedes mosquito bite, sexual contact and blood transfusions. It can also spread from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus resulting in microcephaly and other birth defects.

  • It causes low grade fever (less than 38.5°C) and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

  • Zika virus disease has similar clinical signs to dengue, and may be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

  • Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes and minimizing contact between mosquito vectors and people by using barriers (such as repellents, insect screens), reducing water-filled habitats supporting mosquito larvae in and close to dwellings, and reducing the adult mosquito populations around at-risk communities.

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Knowledge Base ID :   1567
Last Reviewed :   September 5, 2016
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