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Consequences of Zika fever

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, transmitter of the Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses

James Gathany / WikicommonsThe Aedes aegypti mosquito, transmitter of the Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika virusesJames Gathany / Wikicommons

In the first half of 2015, researchers at the Epidemiologic Surveillance Office in the city of Salvador, state of Bahia, noticed an increase in the number of people with skin rashes over their entire bodies. In light of the situation, they implemented a surveillance system in the city’s Emergency Care Units to identify similar cases reported in the same period. Between February and June 2015, 14,835 cases of the disease were reported in Salvador. However, further analyses suggested an even more troubling scenario: the surge in skin rash cases occurred a week after the first diagnoses of Zika fever, caused by the ZIKV virus, in cities near Salvador. The researchers proceeded to analyze blood serum samples from some rash-afflicted patients, identifying the presence of RNA fragments from the zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses (Emerging Infectious Diseases, December 12, 2015). The results point to a simultaneous dissemination of the three viruses in Salvador. Like the Dengue and Chikungunya viruses, Zika is also transmitted by Aedes spp. mosquitoes. Until now, the state of Bahia has reported the highest number of suspected cases of Zika and Chikungunya in Brazil. The recent rise in microcephaly cases (brains smaller than normal) in infants born in northeastern Brazil has been associated with pregnant women being infected with Zika. By July 2015, Bahia had also reported 115 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disease that also has a suspected association with the Zika virus.