Zika virus is responsible for a vector borne disease which means that Aedes aegypti (left) is the vector capable to transmit the viral disease from human to human. Elsewhere and specifically for Southern Europe, it is unsure that Aedes Albopictus might be able to transmit zika virus…
Looking at the natural history of zika, starting from Uganda in 1947, then moving east to Asia then French Polynesia before reaching South America in 2015, we are observing and reporting during the last years (since 2013) new symptoms related to the central nervous (CNS) system like Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
With the outbreak occurring in Brazil, a new question is raised about a possible link between zika and microcephaly as more than 4000 babies are born with this malformation which would lead to definitive disability. We can imagine the impact of such an outcome which concerns young women in childbearing age or pregnant. More studies are required to understand if and how the virus is acting during pregnacy; but an Ethical and political, cultural and religious issue is also raised for the pregnant women exposed to and diagnosed for microcephaly: the right of abortion.
Here we are no longer talking about a vector borne disease but about the risk of giving birth to a disable new born with no chance to live normally. What is happening yet in Brasil? Number of newborns with microcephaly is largely over the usual rate which underlines that something is going wrong and might be related to Zika virus. Here is the Public health Emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
So far, no vaccine, no chemo-prophylaxis and no treatment are available.
Challenges are to prevent the occurrence of the microcephaly, to contain the spread of the Zika outbreak worldwide by taking mitigation measures to prevent growth of Aedeas aegypti in one hand versus controling the “reservoir” of Zika virus, mainly population bitten by infected mosquito, keeping in mind:
No Mosquito = No Bite = No Disease (Zika,Dengue,Chikungunya or Yellow Fever)
Do not expect having a new vaccine available soon; experts say we are far away from getting The One dedicated for Zika virus. So, fighting mosquitoes and containing reservoir as low as possible remains the most practicable and achievable strategy at the time being.
Saying that, to study if Zika virus might have mutated since 1947 in a way it becomes more harmful for CNS, especially during pregnancy; to study also the possible resistance of insecticides when fighting Aedes aegypti. Last, not least, to study the impact on new emergent vector borne diseases of genetically modified organism (GMO). WHO took into account this questions and is encouraging countries to mobilize funding and research in order to bring answers asap.