Preparing the United States for Zika Virus: Pre-emptive Vector Control and Personal Protection.Wilderness Environ Med 2016; 27(4):450-457WE
Discovered in 1947 in a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda, Zika virus was dismissed as a cause of a mild illness that was confined to Africa and Southeast Asia and transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. In 2007, Zika virus appeared outside of its endemic borders in an outbreak on the South Pacific Island of Yap. In 2013, Zika virus was associated with a major neurological complication, Guillain-Barré syndrome, in a larger outbreak in the French Polynesian Islands. From the South Pacific, Zika invaded Brazil in 2015 and caused another severe neurological complication, fetal microcephaly. The mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus can be propagated by sexual transmission and, possibly, by blood transfusions, close personal contacts, and organ transplants, like other flaviviruses. Since these combined mechanisms of infectious disease transmission could result in catastrophic incidences of severe neurological diseases in adults and children, the public should know what to expect from Zika virus, how to prevent infection, and what the most likely failures in preventive measures will be. With federal research funding stalled, a Zika vaccine is far away. The only national strategies to prepare the United States for Zika virus invasion now are effective vector control measures and personal protection from mosquito bites. In addition to a basic knowledge of Aedes mosquito vectors and their biting behaviors, an understanding of simple household vector control measures, and the selection of the best chemical and physical mosquito repellents will be required to repel the Zika threat.