Where are ü now?
Zika, is it a bird, a plane, an alien, no it is a new virus that is sweeping the world; and much like the tones of Justin Bieber it may soon hit us in Europe. Much like how baby Biebs changed from a fresh faced irritant to a monster; Zika virus has transformed from an uninteresting side show to a worldwide sensation. Making headlines since October this virus has been linked to microcephaly in babies, don’t worry if you can’t remember those embryology lectures, I’ll explain that later. Here is the lowdown (welcome back to the 90’s) on the latest global health emergency, which has been buried under the EU referendum and the junior doctors’ strike.
Like the doctors’ strike Zika can be blamed on a monkey; it was first recorded in 1947 in Uganda. It took the leap into humans in 19521 and since then cases have been reported throughout the world, from Africa to the Pacific islands. Carried by the Aedes mosquito, also responsible for
Dengue, which bites not only during the day but also biting multiple people; it is really greedy. Not only does it pass through annoying biting insects, those one night stands could start to give you more than the usual plethora of diseases. That’s correct folks Zika is now one of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases that you can get, so check where every one has been on their elective before taking the plunge after MedChir.
Much like listening to an early Bieber album Zika causes minor irritation when infected first time. They include fairly generic symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, headache, malaise, fever and skin rashes; also known as the classic flu-like symptoms2.
So what was the Purpose of the World Health Organisation declaring a Public Health Emergency on 1st February? From October, in Brazil, there were reports of microcephaly in babies, but what do you mean by microcephaly?
It’s a neurological condition affecting babies, and is often associated with a low level of folate in the diet; getting any more clues? A baby (baby, baby woo) with microcephaly has a small head, due to abnormal brain development within the womb.
Complications have expanded to include the exotically named ‘Guillain-Barré syndrome’ which is far more terrifying than being forced to listen to JB’s back catalogue. A progressive neuropathy that is described as a demyelinating syndrome that is characterised by ascending weakness. In the outbreak in French Polynesia during 2013/14 there was a 20 fold increase in the cases of GBS, indeed a case control study highlighted the strong association between Zika and Guillain-Barré. It has been linked to many other neurological conditions, in two cases from Guadeloupe it was linked to acute myelitis and meningoencephalitis.
Where are ü now, Zika? Indeed. Many places have been mentioned, and some you may even need to Google; the real question is why should you care about a virus in these exotic places? It seems isolated to South/Central America and the Caribbean (Guadeloupe is there) and it is, for now. With summer coming and Europe warming up, it makes the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Experts are warning us that it could soon be hitting us, so for those of you hoping for a safe escape from sunny Glasgow to the south of France; think again. Stay safe, don’t venture south!
What next for Zika? Will this become the next global pandemic? Don’t worry about that and just Love Yourself.