Zika virus

20181111_WHO_EMRO_WHE_IHM_Zika_1WHO experts identify mosquito breeding sites to guide vector control efforts (Photo: WHO).

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus transmitted mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in tropical regions. Zika causes symptoms in only 20% of cases, and these can include mild fever, skin rash and red eyes which normally last for 2-7 days. Zika virus is also a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection and there is no specific anti-viral treatment available.

In early 2016, the reporting of a cluster of neurological disorders and neonatal malformations in the Americas Region led to WHO declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), for microcephaly and other neurological disorders associated with Zika virus. In November of the same year the PHEIC was declared over, however Zika virus and the associated consequences remain a significant public health challenge requiring intense action.

In the Eastern Mediterranean region no cases of Zika have been documented. Nevertheless, WHO supports countries in the region to strengthen epidemiological, laboratory and vector surveillance to detect any sign of local transmission or importation, especially in the countries where Aedes aegypti is present (Djibouti, Egypt, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen).