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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds Zika virus is a flavivirus, which is one of the family of viruses that exists around the world.

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds It’s transmitted by arthropods, mostly insects: in the case of Zika this is a mosquito-borne virus. It’s closely related to dengue. Other members of the flavivirus family include things such as hepatitis C.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds Zika was first recognised seventy years ago when it was isolated from a sentinel monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda during yellow fever studies. The monkey got sick, they studied the monkey, and they found it didn’t have yellow fever but in fact had this new virus that they called Zika virus. Now over the seventy years that we have known about it this has mostly been thought of as a virus that affects monkeys, very occasionally affects people, and even when it does it’s usually a very mild infection. It was known to occur throughout equatorial Africa but then about twenty years ago we started to notice other outbreaks occurring in Asia. And we’ve now identified that there do appear to be two

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds different strains of the Zika virus: the original African strain, but also a new Asian strain, and in fact the current outbreak in Latin America appears to be being caused by the Asian strain. The first epidemics of this virus were actually recognised in Asia, not in Africa at all. It was first noted in Pakistan, later in southeast Asia, but most of the outbreaks have actually occurred on islands. Micronesian islands off Malaysia and then most recently in French Polynesia around Tahiti. Now, we think that it spreads to these different places through human travel.

Skip to 2 minutes and 29 seconds So individuals who are infected with the virus most of the time are going to be perfectly well traveling on aircraft from one place to another, they arrive in a new place they get bitten by a mosquito and that mosquito then passes on the virus to other people and you’ve got an epidemic that has started. It’s also possible that mosquitoes traveled.

What is zika and where has it come from?

For many people Zika seems to have appeared only very recently, but is that the case?

In this step, Professor Jimmy Whitworth tells us more about what the Zika virus is, its origins in Africa, and later outbreaks across the world. Where did the first epidemics occur? Who or what did they affect? How does Zika spread from place to place?

What have you heard personally about the spread of Zika? Remember not to share any private or personal details in the Comments.

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Preventing the Zika Virus: Understanding and Controlling the Aedes Mosquito

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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