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The Zika Virus: A History

Uganda, 1947. Seems like a random place, followed by a random year. But it’s not- the year 1947 is when Zika virus was first identified, in Uganda. Scientists who were conducting routine checks and surveillances isolated the virus in a sample removed from a sentinel rhesus macaque.

Fast forward 5 years, to 1952. The first human cases are recognized, in both Uganda and Tanzania. There weren’t very severe symptoms- a rash, muscle pain, conjunctivitis. Fevers, headaches and joint pains were common too. And still, there was nothing major- it was still a rare disease, scarce as hen’s teeth and twice as mild.

Years pass. 2007 rolls around- and that’s when the name “Zika virus” began to be feared. It had spread to a few countries in Africa and Asia before 2007, but nothing major. A measly 14 cases of human Zika virus had been tabulated worldwide. The island of Yap- part of the Federated States of Micronesia- was the place in which Zika virus erupted. There were 108 possible cases, out of which 49 were confirmed. Luckily enough, there were no deaths.

Come 2013, and there were 4 other Zika outbreaks- all of which were located in the Pacific islands. There were 8,723 cases reported, and a simultaneous dengue fever outbreak bloomed as well. Two years later, another outbreak occurred in Brazil- such was its severity that the WHO declared it a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern).

By some miracle, the USA has escaped the clutches of the Zika virus. As of 2020, there are only 2 reported cases. Perhaps we should replicate their model, before it tightens its vice?


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