Zika virus infection – a new epidemic threat

Department of Paediatrics and Clinical Assessment Unit, Second Faculty of Medicine, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Correspondence: Dominika Pomorska, Department of Paediatrics and Clinical Assessment Unit, Independent Public Children’s Clinical Hospital, Żwirki i Wigury 63 A, 02-091 Warsaw, Poland, e-mail: dominika.pomorska@spdsk.edu.pl

Pediatr Med Rodz 2016, 12 (2), p. 150–156
DOI: 10.15557/PiMR.2016.0014
ABSTRACT

Zika virus, like dengue and yellow fever viruses, is an RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family. The virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, similarly as in the case of Ebola virus in 2014 and bird flu virus in 2009. Although the Zika virus commonly causes a mild flu-like illness, it can cause congenital infections in the foetus. Based on the recommendations of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, the World Health Organization confirmed the possible relationship between the increase in the incidence of Zika virus infections and an increased number of infants with microcephaly. The incidence of microcephaly in Brazil in 2015 was 10–20 times higher than in previous years. A total of 691 cases of travel-related Zika infections have been reported in the United States of America, including 206 pregnant women – with 11 cases of sexually transmitted infection; Guillain–Barré syndrome complication was identified in 2 cases. There is an emphasis on measures to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate mosquito breeding sites in the countries affected by the epidemic. Due to both, Zika virus isolation from sperm and the growing number of sexually transmitted infections, measures to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus have also been taken. There is an ongoing research to develop vaccine against the Zika virus, however, the estimated time of vaccine development is several years.

Keywords: ZIKV, horizontal infection, microcephaly, vector-borne disease, public health emergency