Zika Virus

Zika Virus

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Changed on: 24.10.2019
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The Zika virus, a member of the Flavivirus genus, was first isolated in Africa in 1947 (Zika Forest, Uganda). There are two strains – the African and the Asian strain (Pacific region and in South and North America). The Zika virus is transmitted by a number of mosquito species in the genus Aedes (yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus). There were several outbreaks in the Pacific region in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the Zika virus began to spread to South America. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency on 01.02. 2016: there could be a location and time-related connection between the virus and the occurrence of head and skull deformities. 

Information Folder for Visitors to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro


The Zika virus, a member of the Flavivirus genus, was first isolated in Africa in 1947 (Zika Forest, Uganda). There are two strains – the African and the Asian strain (Pacific region and in South and North America). The Zika virus is transmitted by a number of mosquito species in the genus Aedes (yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus). There were several outbreaks in the Pacific region in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the Zika virus began to spread to South America. Thus, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency on 01.02. 2016: there could be a location and time-related connection between the virus and the occurrence of head and skull deformities. 

Information Folder for Visitors to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro


Symptoms

The incubation period – i.e. the period between actual infection and the outbreak of the virus – is three to 12 days. The majority of people infected (60 to 80 percent) show no symptoms at all. The disease’s symptoms are usually mild fever, headaches, muscle and joint pains and a skin rash. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and last for two to seven days. There is no vaccine.

Pregnancy – Possible Deformity Risk

Outbreaks in French Polynesia and Brazil have resulted in an increase in recorded cases of microcephaly in foetuses and newborn babies. The head circumference of individuals suffering from microcephaly (lit. “small head”) is significantly lower than that of a healthy person of the same age and gender. Microcephaly is usually accompanied by mental disability.

 

 

Risk

Only a very small number of Zika virus infections have been reported in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Ten cases of Zika virus infections, all of them travel-related, were reported in Austria as of June 2016.  However, the spread of the outbreak in South America is increasing the probability of more infections following trips to the regions affected.

In principle, an infection is also possible in Europe, as mosquitoes, such as the Asian tiger mosquito – a probable vector – have also settled in Europe (Mediterranean region).

Austria: Monitoring “Exotic“ Pathogens

Mosquitoes are monitored for human-pathogen viruses, such as the West Nile Virus (WNV), dengue, chikungunya and also the Zika virus as part of the AGES Gelsen-Monitoring programme (mosquito monitoring programme). The mosquitoes found are also examined – in cooperation with the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna – for bacterial diseases, such as tularaemia (rabbit fever) and parasitic diseases, such as leishmaniasis. This programme has been designed to collect mosquitoes at pre-defined locations, classify them and determine the incidence rate of the said pathogens in the mosquito population with the help of molecular biological tests. The Zika virus has not been found to date. Individual finds of Aedes albopictus were reported in 2012.

Inquiries Related to Human Diagnostics

National Reference Center for Flavivirus Infections in Humans
Department of Virology, Medical University of Vienna
Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1095 Vienna
Tel: 01 40 160 65517

Further Information

European Centre for Prevention and Disease Control (ECDC): Updated rapid risk assessment on Zika virus in the Americas and potential complications

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Zika Virus

World Health Organization (WHO)

Information provided by the Federal Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs (BMGF) on the Zika Virus



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