Zika, the mosquito-borne virus, has made the news weekly since mid-2015, when it became a known threat in Brazil. As of mid-2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have declared it an epidemic that threatens South and Central America. Throughout the course of 2016, the outbreak spread to North America when it was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This concern grew as the virus was linked to birth defects, as well as neurological problems.
Prior to the outbreak this past year, Zika was considered a mild infection, as most Zika virus infections are asymptomatic, making it difficult to determine precise estimates of the number of cases. Zika was known to cause a fever and rash that seemed to go away on its own. It wasn’t until the virus was connected to severe brain deformities, called microcephaly, and other birth defects that it became an alarming disease. Researches indicated that the cause was the bite of an infected mosquito called the Aedes species mosquito. It was also discovered to be spread through sexual contact between an infected partner and a non-infected partner. Zika was also found to be passed through sex, even if the infected person did not have symptoms at the time.
During the course of the last year, travelers, especially pregnant women, were warned about traveling to an area where Zika virus was found. By mid-2016 these areas encompassed almost all of the Northern Central and Southern Americas. Areas of greatest concern were the countries in the northern South America continent such as Brazil.
The CDC put out several warnings that included preventing mosquito bites, avoiding travel in infected areas and having protected sex with a partner who may have been exposed to the virus. By the end of 2016, the WHO announced the end of the Zika epidemic. While both the CDC and WHO have lowered the risk of the epidemic, they also warn that the virus could reemerge. Due to this and continued findings of local transmission in the southern states of the United States, prevention and spraying techniques are suggested.