In DepthInfectious Diseases

An obscure mosquito-borne disease goes global

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Science  27 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6264, pp. 1012-1013
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6264.1012

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A little-known virus called Zika has caused outbreaks in Pacific Ocean islands the past few years and has arrived in South America this year. Scientists predict it will spread far and wide in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps in southern Europe as well, because the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the virus are so widespread. Scientifically speaking, Zika virus is still largely terra incognita. Its symptoms, including rash, fatigue, headaches, muscle pains, and swollen and painful joints, appear to be generally mild, but during an outbreak in French Polynesia that started in 2013, some patients developed a serious neurological condition named Guillain-Barré syndrome. Although it is primarily spread by mosquitoes, some evidence suggests sexual transmission is possible as well.