In light of a large outbreak of the mosquito borne viral disease, Zika fever, in the islands of French Polynesia, including Tahiti, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice Jan. 22.
According to the latest data from The French Polynesia Department of Health, there has been 361 laboratory confirmed cases and 7,156 suspected cases reported throughout the 15 islands as of Jan. 13.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a flavivirus related to yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses; however, ZIKV produces a comparatively mild disease in humans. It was first isolated from an infected rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947.
Its relatively rare to see ZIKV outside of Africa and Asia.
The virus is transmitted to humans via mosquitoes of the genus Aedes.
Information regarding pathogenesis of ZIKV is scarce but mosquito-borne flaviviruses are thought to replicate initially in dendritic cells near the site of inoculation then spread to lymph nodes and the bloodstream.
Symptoms may include a headache, a maculopapular rash covering the face, neck, trunk, and upper arms,which may spread to the palms and soles. Transient fever, malaise, and back pain may also develop.
ZIKV can be diagnosed by PCR tests, which detect viral RNA, and an ELISA has been developed at the Arboviral Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Ft. Collins, CO, USA) to detect immunoglobulin (Ig) M to ZIKV.
The federal health agency says there is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika fever. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
This includes covering exposed skin, using insect repellent that contains DEET, stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms and use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
The mosquito that carries Zika virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.
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