Zika infection is caused by a virus spread mostly through the bite of varied species of Aedes mosquitos. Discovered originally in Uganda in 1947, Zika cases have been reported in many warm or tropical regions where these species of mosquitos are prevalent. The disease is asymptomatic among about 80 percent of persons infected, but can cause mild symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and reddening of the eyes for a few days.
However, the seriousness of Zika infection should not be under estimated. Zika can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and has been positively associated with microcephaly and other birth defects. Zika virus has also been linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a paralyzing and potentially fatal autoimmune disorder, as well as other neurological conditions.
Zika garnered international attention after an outbreak beginning late in 2014 in Brazil and other Latin American countries generated huge global concerns about possible links to thousands of alleged cases of microcephaly in the region. Zika has spread globally since, largely through affected travelers. In excess of 600 known cases are documented across 40+ states in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) escalated an Emergency Operations Center to Level 1 activity. The World Health Organization, multiple nations, and several U.S. jurisdictions – including Puerto Rico, Florida, and Hawaii – have declared varied states of emergencies related to Zika virus.
The Network was contacted recently by a requestor who wanted more general information about Zika as well as information about emergency legal preparedness around a possible U.S. outbreak of the virus. The Network is working in real-time on these specific issues and was able to provide several helpful resources:
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