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Outbreaks of the Zika virus have been recorded through history in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, with Brazil most recently making headlines for an outbreak that started in 2015 and continues today. 

  • The virus that causes Zika disease is carried by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes and was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 by monitoring the macaque yellow fever. The virus reemerged in 1952, when it was detected in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. 
  • Symptoms of the disease caused by the Zika virus may include a slight increase in temperature, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, general malaise or a headache, which typically persist for 2 to 7 days.
  • The virus of Zika can be transmitted sexually. Infection of Zika virus is associated with the unfavorable development of pregnancy and adverse effects on the fetus. The scientific community came to a consensus that the virus of Zika causes microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. There are other connections with neurological complications which are also being studied.

The spread of the Zika virus will have long-term health-related consequences for families and communities, as well as for countries whose health systems will have the task for years to assist children born with such complications. Expanding the capacity of health systems in affected countries to address these ongoing challenges is one of the main elements of the World Health Organization's Strategic Response Plan


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