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Zika Virus

The Zika virus has gained worldwide notoriety in light of its epidemic propagation in Brazil since May of 2015. The virus belongs to the family of Flaviviradae and is mainly transmitted by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Although especially Aedes albopictus also inhabits milder climates like the US and Souther Europe, the distribution of the virus is currently mostly limited to South and Central America.

Up to 80% of infections are asymptomatic. Symptomatic carriers may present with fever, arthritis and temporary arthralgias (which is the case for many other viruses as well, see also Viral Arthritis). Other possible symptoms include myalgias, headaches, viral conjunctivitis, and a maculopapular rash.

Aside from acute symptomatology, there have also been significant indications of an increased risk for microcephaly in newborns whose mothers were infected with Zika during pregnancy, as well as an association with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Presently, neither preventative nor specific therapeutic measures are available and treatment is mainly symptomatic.


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The Rheumatologist

Bundesamt für Gesundheit (German)

Fact Sheet SwissTPH (German)

Beyond Zika: Chikungunya