The Zika arbovirus is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. First identified in Ugandan primates in 1947, the first large Zika virus outbreak in humans occurred in the South Pacific in 2007. Since then, it has spread throughout the South Pacific, parts of Africa and Asia, Central and South America and also now in the United States.
Many Zika infections are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. Common symptoms include low grade fever, maculopapular rash, muscle and joint pain, and other body aches. However, there are growing concerns for newborns of pregnant women infected with Zika virus. Over the past year in Brazil, there has been a 20% increase in microcephaly cases and an increase in the frequency of other birth defects. Zika virus RNA has been detected in the amniotic fluid of affected newborns, and health authorities now recommend that pregnant women avoid mosquito bites and travel to infected areas. Many questions surrounding Zika virus remain, including its impact on the transfusion medicine community.
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- Fauci AS, Morens DM. Zika Virus in the Americas – Yet Another Arbovirus Threat. N Engl J Med 2016.
- Ventura CV, Maia M, Bravo-Filho V, Gois AL, Belfort R, Jr. Zika virus in Brazil and macular atrophy in a child with microcephaly. Lancet 2016.