The latest on everyone’s mind is the Zika virus. Zika is named for the forest in Uganda where it was identified in 1947. Generally, Zika is not serious–80% of infected people have no symptoms; most who become ill only develop nonspecific fever, rash, joint aches and red eyes lasting under 1 week. Rarely, it has been associated with, (not proved a cause of) a serious neurologic condition called guillain-barre syndrome.
In the last year Zika has spread rapidly through the Americas. No one knows exactly why this happened, but it had not previously been known in this part of the world and encountered a large “infection naive” population. Those circumstances can frequently result in this type of infection spread pattern. Zika spreads with a bite from infected aedes mosquitoes. 3 points about aedes: in warm weather aedes mosquitoes have been spotted as far north as Washington DC and possibly central NJ, aedes also harbors dengue and chikungunya virus, and climate change will likely cause aedes’ habitat to expand. There are unconfirmed reports of Zika spread via sexual contact.