Zika in the Americas

This item appears on page 19 of the January 2017 issue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Nov. 21 that  because the zika virus outbreak in South America and the Caribbean is now endemic to the region, it will no longer be considered an “international medical emergency.” WHO now recommends a long-term approach to treating the virus, emphasizing prevention.

The zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and also by sexual contact with persons infected with the virus, even months after symptoms cease. It is rarely fatal. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint pain and rashes as well as birth defects if women are infected during pregnancy. It is estimated that one in five infected individuals do not experience any symptoms.