Zika virus infection and fertility
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavi virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later 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. Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
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. Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
Zika virus infection in pregnancy
This is of concern due to an association between Zika virus infection and adverse pregnancy and foetal outcomes. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly that is a sign of incomplete brain development. Doctors have also found other problems in pregnancies and among foetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly; and that Zika virus is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome.
WHO is supporting countries to control Zika virus disease by taking actions like-
• experts and partners are encouraged to continue research on this virus surveillance.
• Strengthen communities to better understand risks associated with Zika virus.
• Strengthen the capacity of laboratories to detect the virus.
• implement vector control strategies aimed at reducing Aedes mosquito populations.
• Prepare recommendations for the clinical care and follow-up of people with complications related to Zika virus infection, in collaboration with experts and other health agencies.