n Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum - New guidelines for Zika Virus 2016 : review

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1027-9148



Zika virus has caused a self- limiting pyrexial illness across Africa and South East Asia for decades. Recently there has been a rapid spread of the Zika virus in South America. However, to date, the zika virus has not been found further south than Uganda in Africa. The vector species, Aedes aegypti, is common in South Africa especially in the eastern coastal plains but it may also be found inland. In urban areas, the mosquito breeds in small collections of water such as discarded tyres and buckets or the leaf axils of Strelitzia nicolae (banana tress). Aedes argypti is made up of 2 subspecies. The African subspecies tends not to bite humans and is probably less susceptible to Zika virus when compared to the American ones. The outbreak in Brazil is probably associated with the lack of piped water. The resultant storage of water in indoor vats and pails has provided an ideal habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito to breed. Although a case of imported Zika has been reported by a traveller returning to South Africa, there is minimal risk to the local population. These viruses are not contagious and require the assistance of a mosquito vector between hosts. On 1 February 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus an international public health emergency, due to its link to thousands of birth defects in Brazil. This is only the fourth time the WHO has declared a global health emergency,with others arising from influenza, Ebola and polio.

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