The Zika Virus first comes to the attention of the world in 1947. A Rhesus monkey living in the Zika Forest (hence the name)
in Uganda, contracted an unknown febrile illness. Scientists isolated a new transmissible agent from the febrile Rhesus monkey
which was then named Zika Virus or ZIKV.
Virus isolated in mosquitoes (Aedes africanus) in the same Zika Forest in Uganda in 1948.
First case of Zika Virus infection is found in a human in the country of Nigeria in 1954. There are other dates reported in some documents, but 1954 is generally considered to be the earliest known case.
1955 - 2006
From its discovery until 2006, confirmed cases of Zika virus infection were rare, although cases were reported during the 60's in Africa and South-East Asia. Analysis suggested that the African and Asian strains emerged as two distinct lineages.
The first outbreak outside of Africa and Asia was documented on Yap Island in the Federal States of Micronesia, in 2007.
The virus was characterized by rash, conjunctivitis, and arthralgia, which was initially thought to be dengue, Chikungunya or Ross River disease. However, serum samples from patients in the acute phase of illness contained RNA of Zika virus. There were 49 confirmed cases, 59 probable cases, no deaths and no hospitalizations.
This outbreak highlighted the potential of the virus as an emerging pathogen and studies provided evidence that the outbreak strain had been introduced from South-East Asia.
Clinical and serologic evidence indicate that 2 American scientists contracted Zika virus infections while working in Senegal in 2008. One of the scientists transmitted this arbovirus to his wife after his return home. Direct contact is implicated as the transmission route, most likely as a sexually transmitted infection since none of their four children contracted the virus.
At this point in medical research, their experience presents only circumstantial evidence towards sexual transmission of the Zika Virus. Additionally, this is the first and only documented case of a 'mosquito-borne STD' and there is no evidence of other arboviruses behaving similarly.
The largest outbreak of the Zika Virus began in October 2013 in French Polynesia, South Pacific with an estimated 28,000 infections. Outbreaks also occurred in Easter Island, the Cook Islands and New Caledonia.
In May 2015, the public health authorities of Brazil confirmed ZIKV infection in the north-eastern part of the country. Healthcare authorities confirmed that a previously unknown disease affecting around 500 patients with flu-like symptoms followed by rash and arthralgia was indeed an ongoing outbreak of Zika fever.
Local authorities linked the outbreak to an increased flow of foreign visitors prompted by the 2014 FIFA World Cup, coupled with the large population of insect vectors such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that inhabit the region.
On 16 October 2015, the first cases of ZIKV infections were reported in Colombia, with nine confirmed cases in the Bolivar department. From 16 October to 21 November, Colombian authorities reported 578 confirmed cases and 2 635 suspected cases..
On 12 November 2015, the Suriname authorities reported five cases of ZIKV through IHR.
On 24 November 2015, the health authorities of French Polynesia reported an unusual increase of at least 17 cases of central nervous system malformations in foetuses and infants during 2014-2015.
The cases are reported from pregnancies that occurred during the ZIKV infection outbreak in French Polynesia (September 2013 to March 2014) at a gestational age of less than six months.
None of the pregnant women described clinical signs of ZIKV infection, but the four tested were found positive by IgG serology assays for flavivirus, suggesting a possible asymptomatic ZIKV infection.
Further serological investigations are ongoing. Based on the temporal correlation of these cases with the ZIKV epidemic, the health authorities of French Polynesia hypothesise that ZIKV infection may be associated with these abnormalities if mothers are infected during the first or second trimester of pregnancy.
On 24 November 2015, the El Salvador IHR National Focal Point (NFP) gave notification of three confirmed autochthonous cases of ZIKV infection. On 3 December, media reported 240 ZIKV cases across the country.
On 26 November 2015, Mexico authorities acknowledged three ZIKV cases, including two autochthonous cases reported from Nuevo Leon and Chiapas. The imported cases had recently travelled to Colombia.
On 27 November 2015, the Paraguay IHR National Focal Point (NFP) reported the confirmation of six ZIKV cases in the city of Pedro Caballero - close to the border with Brazil.
On 27 November 2015, the Venezuela IHR National Focal Point (NFP) gave notification of seven ZIKV autochthonous suspected cases.
On 1 December 2015, media, quoting authorities, reported 17 suspected cases of ZIKV infection in Guatemala, 14 of which were among hospital employees. Blood samples have been collected and sent to the US for analysis.
On 3 December 2015, the Ministry of Health of Panama reported three autochthonous cases of Zika virus infection. All three cases are residents of the district of Ailigandi, Guna Yala (north-east).
26th December, The Island of Martinique becomes the latest country in the region to confirm reports of the autochthonous or local transmission of the mosquito borne Zika virus. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), says the French speaking Caribbean nation is the 11th country in the Americas to report the virus this year and the 12th to report local transmission.
The Puerto Rico Department of Health reported today the first locally acquired case of Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico. Zika was confirmed in a resident of Puerto Rico with no known travel history.
16th Jan 2016
Barbados, Haiti and Guyana have all confirmed cases of Zika Virus in their respective countries. On Thursday 14th January 2016 Haiti and Guyana confirmed cases of Zika Virus and on Friday 15th January, Barbados also confirmed 3 cases of Zikv.
17th Jan 2016
The Center for disease control issues advisory to pregnant women and those trying to conceive to postpone travel to countries that are experiencing Zika virus outbreaks in South America and The Caribbean. The countries mentioned are: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The advisory was issued after a woman in Hawaii gave birth to a baby with microcephaly and evidence of Zika virus infection. The mother was living in Brazil prior to the birth and they most likely contracted Zikv at that time.
01st Feb 2016
The World Health Organisation director Margaret Chan has declared that the Zika virus constitute a public health emergency of international concern.
It is expected that this will increase funding to find a cure for this virus and also to assist in finding the cause for the large numbers of babies born with abnormally small heads in Brazil. It will also put resources behind a massive effort to prevent pregnant women becoming infected and, through mosquito control, stop the virus spreading.
Chan stated that "Members of the committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted this advice," she said. "It is important to realise that when the evidence first becomes available of such a serious condition like microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities, we need to take action, including precautionary measures." continued Chan.
02nd Feb 2016
The first case of Zika Virus transmission was reported in Texas, USA this week. It is likely that the virus was contracted through sexual contact, said local health officials.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed it was the first U.S. Zika case in someone who had not traveled abroad in the current outbreak, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. It was reported that the individual contracted the Zika Virus through sex with someone who had been to Argentina. World Health Organization officials stated that this is potentially an alarming development.
09th Feb 2016
Health officials in Colombia have announced the deaths of three people who had been infected with the Zika Virus and subsequently developed Guillain-Barre syndrome. Alejandro Gaviria, the Colombian health minister, stated that there was a "causal connection" between Zika, the Guillain-Barre disorder and the three deaths. Six further deaths are under investigation for a possible link to Zika Virus.
Approximately 100 Colombians who are suffering with the Guillain-Barre syndrome also show symptoms of the Zika Virus said a spokesperson for Colombia's National Health Institute.
18th Feb 2016
Physicians in Crop Sprayed Towns (PCST), a group of physicians in Brazil, have claimed that the Zika Virus is not responsible for the dramatic rise in cases of Microcephaly. The tenfold increase of newborn babies with Microcephaly in Brazil, has alarmed Health officials around the world. Although the Zika Virus has never been officially linked with Microcephaly, there was strong suggestion from the World Health organisation and the CDC that the virus was the culprit.
PCST claims that a popular larvacide, pyriproxyfen to be the actual suspect. The larvacide was used in Brazilian water supplies to control the spread of mosquitoes in certain areas. These areas now coincide with the areas with high cases of microcephaly.
Columbia, a country that did not use this brand of larvacide, has not reported any cases of microcephaly although they have many cases of the Zika Virus. Pyriproxyten is manufactured by a subsidiary of Monsanto, and disrupts the natural growth of mosquito larvae and was added to the Brazilian water supply in 2014.
28th Feb 2016
The U.S Centers for Disease Control have advised pregnant women or women trying to conceive to avoid areas with Zika Virus outbreaks. They have also advised pregnant women to reconsider going to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil if they had planned to do so. Both women and their partners should be very cautious concerning the Zika Virus after it was discovered that the virus may be also be passed through sexual contact as well as the traditional route via the aedes aegypti mosquito.
The CDC confirmed that there were 2 cases of Zika Virus contracted via sexual contact and that there were an additional 14 cases being investigated in the U.S. The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance also confirmed a case of Zika Virus in France via sexual transmission.
14th Apr 2016
On 14th April 2016 Dr Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, confirmed that the Zika Virus does indeed cause Microcephaly and several other birth defects in babies. He stated that 'This study marks a turning point in the Zika outbreak. It is now clear that the virus causes microcephaly'. The Zika virus was previously beleived to have caused the birth defects seen in newborn babies, characterized by unusually small heads, and this has now been confirmed by the CDC.