The Medical Mystery of Zika
Zika is not totally unknown before the current outbreak in Brazil. The fact that it is a known virus in Africa since the 1940s, and the western Pacific almost 70 years ago, was not immediately correlated to babies with microcephaly (abnormally smaller foreheads). It is now estimated that 1.5 million Brazilians may have caught Zika, and the Pan-American Health Organization said the virus had since spread to 24 countries and territories in the hemisphere. 80% of people infected by it do not develop significant symptoms, so the situation is far more serious than first thought, as transmission by body fluids becomes a real concern. The evolution of the virus has now promoted Zika from a benign illness to one classified by the World Health Organization, on 1 February 2016, as a health emergency of international concern. Research and development of a vaccine against the virus and reliable diagnostic tests have begun in earnest. This long read lays out the history and eventual diagnostic conclusion for Zika.
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