Zika Could Be Here To Stay: Zika Virus In Monkeys Could Trigger Future Outbreaks

Admin | Published 2017-02-09 11:11
Zika fever, a mosquito-borne disease that causes birth defects, is found to be transmitted to monkeys, which could be reservoirs that can trigger future outbreaks. Disease ecologists in the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting said that monkeys may harbor Zika virus, which could act as reservoirs for the virus that could fuel future outbreaks. If that happens, it will be a lot more difficult to eradicate Zika virus.

Monkeys, like this Black Marmoset, is found to harbor the same strain of Zika virus that infects humans (c) The Dodo

Although we don’t hear about Zika virus disease a lot these recent days, it does not mean that the virus is gone. In fact, Zika was never eradicated, and there is actually around 4,000 new cases in the Caribbean countries. New cases have been reported in Florida this year. New Zika cases are being reported in Southwest African countries. Zika virus is the cause of Zika fever. It is not a new disease, as first cases were reported in 1954. Zika virus is spread by mosquito bites, making it common in countries with tropical climates. Zika fever itself can be described as relatively mild, as people may exhibit few or no symptoms, which are usually fever, rash, muscle and joint pain. Zika fever goes away without treatment, although the person may continue to have the virus and may spread it to others. It is problematic because Zika fever causes unspecific symptoms that could be mistaken for other conditions unless the person has specific tests for it, so outbreaks may go on without being detected. It spreads through sex, and pregnant mothers who have it can pass the virus to the fetus resulting in birth abnormalities. It is to note that the ‘spillback’ has already started. On April last year in Brazil, lab tests on captured black marmosets and capuchin monkeys showed that the animals are infected with Zika virus that matched human strain.    These monkeys are very popular pets and widely trafficked through pet trade, which put humans at great risk. Current guidelines for preventing Zika virus infection include protection against mosquito bites, not travelling to areas where there an outbreak, using condoms to prevent sexual transmission, and testing suspected cases. The developmental drive to produce Zika vaccine is still ongoing. Last year, the first clinical trial for ZIka vaccine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Zika virus is often spread through mosquito bites. (c) Emedicine Health

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