Zika Outbreaks Move Into Central America
Since Zika outbreaks peaked in 2017, the circulation of this mosquito-borne virus has been confirmed in 89 countries worldwide. Although incidence levels remain low, sporadic increases in Zika cases have been observed in some countries in the Region of the Americas.
The Zika virus is a flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which are common in the Americas.
"Most infections with this virus are asymptomatic or mild, making their detection by healthcare systems quite challenging," said María Van Kerkhove, Head of the Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Unit at the World Health Organization (WHO), in a September 2023 press release.
However, the Pan American Health Organization confirmed that the Federative Republic of Brazi confirmed 33,386 Zika cases last year.
And with climate change impacting the range of disease-carrying mosquitos, several countries in Central America reported Zika outbreaks as of week #52.
- Belize - 281
- Guatemala - 112
- El Salvador - 110
- Mexico - 29
But this trend has yet to progress north of Mexico and the Rio Grande River, as the state of Texas reported (0) Zika cases in 2023.
With regard to complications from this disease, WHO says many people infected with the Zika virus won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.
Unfortunately, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to its effects since it can lead to congenital malformations, such as microcephaly, as well as an increased likelihood of preterm births or spontaneous abortions.
As of January 11, 2024, there are no U.S. FDA-approved Zika vaccines, but several vaccine candidates are conducting clinical research.