What is Zika/ZIKV?
Zika virus, also known as ZIKV, is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in 1947 in rhesus monkeys in the Zika forest in Uganda, hence the virus was named “Zika”. The virus was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 and with small outbreaks reported in Africa and parts of South-east Asia. The virus was relatively unknown until 2007 when the large outbreaks reportedly began in several islands of the Pacific Region. Zika virus entered the Americas in 2014 when the first local cases of transmission were detected in the Chile. In May 2015, local transmission was reported in Brazil and since then Zika virus has spread to several countries and territories in the Americas and the Caribbean.
Zika is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito which transmits chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever and which is present in every country of the Caribbean. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person during the first week of infection with the virus and in turn these infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Only 1 in 4 persons infected with Zika virus may develop symptoms which are usually mild and last for 2-7 days. The most common symptoms of Zika infection are mild fever and skin rash, usually accompanied by conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general feeling of illness that begins 2-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya and can last 2- 7 days. However, serious complications can sometimes occur in persons who are infected.
Research thus far indicates that it cannot be transmitted person to person by close or casual contact with an infected person or through the air, food or water, according to CARPHA. The Caribbean nations and their hotels are taking proactive measures similar to those used in the past to combat dengue and chikungunya. These include:
Prevention messages for travellers
All travelers are advised to:
Additional Updates & Resources
CTO/CHTA Joint Statements: These guides can assist hotels, NHTAs, Tourism Boards and others with their local communications.
CARPHA Zika Media Conference Statements and Support Information