- Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
- The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
- Genre: Flavivirus
- Vector: Aedes mosquitoes (which usually bite during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours)
- Reservoir: Unknown
Signs and Symptoms
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.
Potential complications of Zika virus disease
During large outbreaks in French Polynesia and Brazil in 2013 and 2015 respectively, national health authorities reported potential neurological and auto-immune complications of Zika virus disease. Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome which coincided with Zika virus infections in the general public, as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil. Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. However, more investigation is needed to better understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus. Other potential causes are also being investigated.
Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Zika virus disease outbreaks were reported for the first time from the Pacific in 2007 and 2013 (Yap and French Polynesia, respectively), and in 2015 from the Americas (Brazil and Colombia) and Africa (Cape Verde). In addition, more than 13 countries in the Americas have reported sporadic Zika virus infections indicating rapid geographic expansion of Zika virus.
Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history (e.g. residence or travel to an area where Zika virus is known to be present). Zika virus diagnosis can only be confirmed by laboratory testing for the presence of Zika virus RNA in the blood or other body fluids, such as urine or saliva.
Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.
This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.
Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.
During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. Insecticides recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers.
Travellers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
Health: Zika and Dengue update
The Ministry of Health & Medical Services has been working proactively with regards to Zika and Dengue.
Currently, a total of 85 confirmed dengue cases have been recorded out of which 55% cases are from Northern division (clustered in Macuata district), 43% from the Western division (Nadi, Lautoka and Ba) and 2% in the Central division (Suva-Nausori corridor).
The Health Ministry continues to encourage members of the public to ensure that their surroundings are free of mosquito breeding places as well as ensuring adequate protection against mosquito bites.
With reports of Zika Virus in certain countries such as Brazil (and other SA countries) the medical team that is preparing and that is part of the contingent to the Rio Olympics has been in contact with the Ministry’s communicable disease program. Relevant advice on prevention and protection from Zika virus infection has been imparted to the medical team. The risk of importation of Zika by returning athletes is acknowledged and was also stressed to the medical team.
The Ministry envisages further discussions on health safety/protection with the Rio Olympics medical team following up to the date of departure.
Further to this, the Ministry is also aware that the mosquito vector for Zika and Dengue (Aedes Aegypti is abundant in Fiji. There has been an ongoing surveillance on Zika virus by the Ministry from last year including the clean-up campaigns against mosquito vectors for dengue (which is the same vector for Chikungunya and Zika Virus).
The Ministry is aware of peer reviewed articles from Brazil regarding Zika-associated/induced microcephaly. Discussions on this disease outcome and the threat from Zika virus infection have taken place with the WHO Suva office. The appropriate surveillance/response mechanisms for Zika virus infection and birth-defect complications will soon be operational at the Ministry.
While the Ministry continues to remain proactive with its preparedness and response, members of the public are urged once again to take the necessary precautions and clean up their surroundings that may contain mosquito breeding receptacles.
24th March 2016
The Ministry of Health & Medical Services continues to work proactively to address mosquito borne diseases and intervene to minimize the possibility of outbreaks.
As of 24th March 2016, 3 zika cases have been confirmed -1 in the western division and 2 in the central division.
The Hon. Minister for Health & Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate said that the cases have been investigated and a rapid survey of mosquito density within the case area was carried out.
The Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by the aedes mosquito, the same species which spreads dengue and chikungunya. Zika virus usually causes mild illness; with symptoms appearing a few days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Most people with Zika virus disease will get a slight fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, and feel tired. The symptoms usually subside within 1-2 weeks.
“Our environmental health team has carried out awareness and information on zika at these houses. Spraying was also done in these areas on Friday”.
‘We are fortunate that there is no outbreak of Zika virus in Fiji. I must commend our team that had put together a Zika action plan earlier this year which has allowed for such timely preparedness and response” Mr Usamate said.
This action plan has been put together in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), DFAT through Fiji Health Sector Support Program (FHSSP), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australian Government, UNICEF, and Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
“We continue to intensify surveillance activities for testing suspected cases, considering that Fiji is a hub for trade and travel in the region”, Mr Usamate added.
The public is urged to adhere to health advises on taking necessary preventative measures.
The best protection from Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing mosquito bites will protect people from Zika virus, as well as other diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue and chikungunya. Pregnant women should also protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitos.
Mr Usamate said, “Destroying mosquito breeding places is important and this requires everyone’s effort and not just the Ministry or Government’s”.
Use insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets.
It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold even small amounts of water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s vector control, border control and Centre for Communicable disease will continue to be vigilant and alert on patients who present to medical practitioners with similar symptoms to Zika virus.
Any further information about Zika can be obtained from the Ministry of Health & Medical Services.
For further information on Zika Virus please visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/ or http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/.