A mosquito that transmits multiple diseases is now introducing a new-old disease: Zika virus infection. The mosquito is Aedes aegypti, and it transmists dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Zika virus infection is not new; it was first discovered in Uganda in rhesus monkeys in 1947 and then in humans in 1952. More recently it has reemerged in epidemic proportions that threaten to reach a pandemic. The center of this emerging pandemic is Brazil, but it is also spreading in Mexico and Central America. It can cause symptoms that last 2-7 days and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. However, a recent study showed a relationship with Zika infection among pregnant mothers and microcephaly (see picture), which is a serious mental retardation among newborns. This has raised serious concern and brought this disease to the attention of the world.
It is only known to be transmitted by this specific type of mosquito, which bites early morning and late afternoon/evening. Someone infected with Zika virus requires no specific treatment other than plenty of rest and fluids and treating pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, one should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
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UC San Diego, Department of Pediatrics Center for Community Health promotes health equity in the community through education, research, service and training. We achieve this goal largely through translational research, translating advances from basic science and clinical research into the community. Our Center promotes optimal health in all populations through interventions that target chronic disease and obesity prevention.
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