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What you need to know about the Zika Virus?

Like the youngest sibling, silently watching the performances of their older brothers and sisters, waiting for their chance to steal the limelight; the Zika virus has stealthy and quietly traveled subtropical regions while the world's attention was turned to deadly threats such as Ebola or emerging influenza strains. Primarily known locally for mild flu-like symptoms, Zika virus infections were considered a public health nuisance not a crisis. This changed dramatically in 2015. Early that year, Brazilian public health officials began noting a strange increase in reported cases of microcephaly, normally < 1 case in 10,000 live births. The connection between Zika infections and microcephaly, first reported in the journal of "Emerging Infectious Diseases", has caused the public health community to mobilize basic research and epidemiological studies to combat this growing emergency. In the first month of 2016, 32 high profile scientific articles have been published, ranging from identification of new non-mosquito transmission routes through sexual contact or blood transfusions to guidelines for the evaluation of infants displaying brain defects at birth to the WHO declaring the Zika virus a global public health emergency in the prominent "British Journal of Medicine".

Our current ability to fight and contain this disease is limited to mosquito control since an effective vaccination is years in the future. Especially at risk are currently pregnant women, who were unaware of the potential danger. In an unprecedented move, WHO has advised women to consider postponing pregnancy in Zika-prone regions. The long-term ramifications of reduced fertility, paired with the staggering health care costs for lifelong care of microcephaly children will strain third world resources. Thus, intense public education campaigns on preventive measures, such as use of repellents and screens, hold the only hope to limit morbidity. Much more research is needed to fully understand this troubling new infectious disease but Zika virus rapid emergence from an easily treated illness to public health crisis has hopefully begun a global push to increase research on other similar diseases.

MyBioSource offers the following products for laboratory research on Zika Virus (ZIKV):

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  • What you need to know about the Zika Virus?
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