What is the Zika Virus?

In light of the recent global concern, here’s the lastest on the Zika Virus. We’ve pulled tips from the world’s top health organization to help you to stay up-to-date. What’s the latest? When can we expect a vaccine? What can we do to protect against the virus? I’ve been wondering, and perhaps you have been, too.

zika-mosquito-maps*

So, what is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a mosquitos-borne illness that has mild flu-like symptoms. It’s transmitted primarily by the Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), according to the Center for Disease Control. Only a small number of people infected with the virus actually show symptoms. And of these, even a smaller number of people have severe symptoms. Among pregnant women there is a strongly suspected and alarming link between having the virus during pregnancy and babies that are born with smaller than average heads, a condition known as microcephaly.

Where are we on the Timeline?

1947 – The Zika Virus was first discovered in the forests of Uganda. It was isolated in a monkey.

1952 – First human cases of Zika virus were reported in Uganda and Tanzania

1960s to 1980s – During this time the Zika virus was documented in more than 20 types of mosquito species and sporadically in humans. It was considered to be benign.

2007 – Zika Virus spreads from Africa to Asia causing the first outbreak in humans on the Island of Yap, in the Pacific Ocean. No deaths were reported, but records documented 49-59 probably cases of the human infection.

2013 to 2014 – The Zika Virus breaks out in French Polynesia, and it is noted that it may cause more than just a mild illness.

May 15, 2015 – The first case of Zika Virus is reported in Brazil.

November 11, 2015 – Microcephaly is suspected to be linked to women infected with Zika during pregnancy. Brazil declared a national public health emergency.

February 1, 2016 –  The Zika Virus is declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the The World Health Organization (WHO).

Late 2016 – The National Institute for Health (NIH) says Zika vaccines should be ready for the first phase of clinical trials in the late summer or fall of the year.

2018 – The NIH reports the vaccine should be ready for wide-spread distribution, if the research and trials continue as projected.

If you’re curious, there are more details on this Zika Virus Timeline published by the World Health Organization.

Protecting against the Zika Virus

While scientists are busy developing a vaccine, we get to wrestle with the details on how to protect ourselves. We can do our part to help keep the virus from spreading.

arbovirus_inbound*Four tips on what do to :: What the WHO and CDC recommends

1. Don’t travel to areas where the Zika virus is active. Here’s the current CDC Travel Notice.

2. Keep an eye on the status of active Zika cases in your country.

3. Avoid getting bitten by mosquitos if you find yourself in an area with active cases. Here’s the CDC’s list for Tips on Prevention.

4. If you are a man and are traveling to a regions with active Zika transmission, wait 4 weeks before being sexually intimate. Several cases of sexual transmission of the Zika virus from males to their partners have been documented in the United States.

And then there’s the debate about Natural Insect Sprays versus ones that contain DEET. That’s a tough one with lots of pros and cons. We’d love to hear your thoughts on that (Comment below!).

We do not sell any EPA approved products for repelling mosquitoes. Also, we caution pregnant women against using Neem Oil. Although there isn’t any strong evidence for topical Neem products, such as lotion, soaps, oils & serums having any adverse affects on pregnancies, we recommend erring on the side of caution. And note that it’s never safe to ingest Neem products while pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Read up on the properties of Neem and consult your licensed physician anytime you are using an natural herbal treatment.