An article in The New York Times recently brought my attention to a health crisis that originated in Brazil involving a mosquito-borne flavivirus.1,2
The Zika virus is a single-stranded positive ribonucleic acid virus spread by Aedes species mosquitoes, and is associated with yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile viruses.2
The virus is also being transmitted to fetuses via pregnant women bitten by infected mosquitoes.3 It has been linked to a significant rise of microcephaly in newborns in Brazil, although no causal evidence has been proved. According to a report in Newsweek, the World Health Organization recently reported 1761 suspected cases of microcephaly, including 19 deaths in Brazil since December 2015.4
Although there are no vaccines for this virus, people can avoid contracting the disease by preventing mosquito bites.5 In particular, patients can protect themselves by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, as well as using air-conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Indoors and outdoors, emptying standing water from containers (eg, flowerpots or buckets) may help reduce the number of mosquitoes.
Clinical signs and symptoms associated with the Zika virus include acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis, as well as myalgia, headaches, retro-orbital pain, and vomiting.6
Primary care providers, including pharmacists and retail clinicians, should be aware of this infectious disease and ready to answer patient questions as these reports emerge in the media. Similar to other infectious diseases, prevention and symptom recognition is paramount.
We hope you enjoy this January issue of Inside Patient Care, and look forward to your feedback on this important emerging disease, as well as any topics we cover throughout the journal.
- Romero S. Alarm spreads in Brazil over a virus and a surge in malformed infants. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/world/americas/alarm-spreads-in-brazil-over-a-virus-and-a-surge-in-malformed-infants.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore- iphone-share&_r=0. Published December 30, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika virus outbreak, Bahia, Brazil. wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/21/10/15-0847_article. Updated September 22, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2016.
- Johnson R, Jelmayer R. Brazil grapples with spread of Zika virus and Dengue fever. The Wall Street Journal. www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-grapples-with-spread-of-zika-virus-and-dengue-fever-1452032907. Published January 5, 2016. Accessed January 8, 2016.
- Firger J. Zika virus is spreading outside Brazil and could threaten the US. Newsweek. www.newsweek.com/zika-virus-spreading-outside-brazil-and-could-threaten-us-411623. Published January 5, 2016. Accessed January 8, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika virus. Prevention. www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html. Updated June 1, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika virus. For health care providers: clinical evaluation & disease. www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/clinicalevaluation.html. Updated June 1, 2015. Accessed January 8, 2016.