Feb. 09, 2016
The Middlesex London Health Unit has provided a briefing of information about the Zika virus
The Zika virus is a vector-borne disease like West Nile virus and Malaria, that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. There are a number of mosquito species that can carry Zika virus; these species are also known to carry Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. They are not native to Canada.
Zika virus may be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. This has been reported recently in the US; its significance as a mode of transmission remains unclear.
Only one out of four people infected with Zika virus develops symptoms, which are usually mild, appearing within three to 12 days of infection, and lasting between two and seven days. Typical symptoms include: fever, maculopapular rash, conjunctivitis, arthralgia and myalgia. In rare instances, Guillain-Barré syndrome has been reported. Vertical transmission during pregnancy or delivery and possible sexual and transfusion transmission have also been reported. The risk of microcephaly and other birth defects is currently being investigated.
There is no vaccine or known cure for Zika; treatment is supportive.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a travel advisory to countries known to have confirmed cases of Zika virus. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant are advised to consider postponing travel to these areas. If travel cannot be postponed, strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed. For the most up-to-date list of countries affected by Zika virus, visit the Pan American Health Organization's website.