n South African Medical Journal - Is South Africa at risk for Zika virus disease? : editorial

Volume 106, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Zika virus (ZIKV) was originally isolated from a sentinel rhesus monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. Twenty-one years later the virus was isolated for the first time from naturally infected humans in Nigeria. ZIKV belongs to the genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae, comprising enveloped viruses with RNA genomes, mostly arthropod borne. For decades ZIKV remained relatively unknown, affecting mainly monkeys and occasionally causing a mild disease in humans residing across a narrow equatorial belt in Africa and Asia. The virus is transmitted to humans by daytime active Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and usually causes a self-limiting, non-fatal febrile infection characterised by a maculopapular rash, arthralgia, conjunctivitis, myalgia and headache.

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