The emerging Zika virus disease is caused by a virus and transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Zika virus outbreaks have been reported in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific from the 1960s to 1980s. The first large outbreaks were reported in 2007 from the Island of Yap and recently in 2016 in Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saint Lucia, Chili and different other countries. Infected persons usually have mild symptoms that last for 2-7 days, including fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. Therefore, prevention by protecting against mosquito bites is important.
There is scientific consensus that unborn babies of infected pregnant women have a high risk to develop microcephaly (abnormally small heads) and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.