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Zika Virus Disease, Microcephaly, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Linda Crampton is an experienced teacher with a first-class honors degree in biology. She writes about the scientific basis of disease.

Aedes aegypti feeding on human blood; photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Aedes aegypti feeding on human blood; photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

A Sometimes Troubling Viral Infection

The Zika virus is transmitted to humans via a mosquito bite and can cause disease. The symptoms of the disease can be unpleasant but are often mild. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all from the infection. The virus is worrying, however. In 2015-2017, it spread rapidly in some parts of the world. In addition, it's linked to more serious disorders, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly (abnormally small brain and head size in babies).

The virus is transmitted by a bite from a mosquito belonging to the genus Aedes, including Aedes aegypti. In some countries, this species is responsible for the transmission of dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya as well as Zika virus disease. The illness is also known as Zika fever or simply as Zika.

History of the Zika Virus Disease

The Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in rhesus monkeys in Uganda. The virus is named after the Zika Forest in that country. It was found in humans in 1952 but for a long time was not common. The first episode that could be called an outbreak took place in 2007. In 2014, the first evidence of viral transmission from mother to fetus was discovered. Its significance wasn't appreciated at the time.

In recent times, the virus has spread rapidly and has attracted the attention of health authorities. Research suggests that a genetic change that is helpful during infection has spread through the viral population.

Possible Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms That May Appear

Symptoms of Zika virus disease may include a fever, rash and headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red and inflamed eyes). The symptoms generally last for a few days to about a week. Around 80% of infected people experience no symptoms. People usually recover from the infection without help. The infection may make a person feel miserable and may interfere with life for a while, but often the illness isn't serious.

Treatment for the Disease

There is currently no specific treatment for a Zika virus infection. The symptoms can be treated, however. As in any other viral infection, rest, adequate fluids, and good nutrition should help the immune system to fight the virus and aid recovery. If the condition doesn't improve or gets worse, a doctor's advice should be sought. He or she will be able to prescribe suitable steps to help patients. Pregnant women, those with certain pre-existing health problems, and people with serious symptoms should consult a doctor immediately.

There is now scientific consensus that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly. We do not know if a newborn who gets Zika virus infection around the time of birth will develop microcephaly after birth.

— CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Secondary Effects of the Infection

The link between the Zika virus and other diseases is a concern. An increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome was noticed after one outbreak of the virus in French Polynesia. An increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly was noticed after an outbreak in Brazil. The latter situation is of special concern to pregnant women and to those who hope to become pregnant soon.

According to the CDC, there is now scientific consensus that the virus can cause microcephaly in newborn babies if the infection develops during pregnancy. According to the organization, the link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome is strongly suspected but is not quite as certain as the link with microcephaly. WHO (World Health Organization) considers the link to be confirmed, however.

Viruses: More Complex Than They Appear

Unlike other living things, viruses aren't made of cells. They consist of nucleic acid—either DNA or RNA—surrounded by a protein coat. Some viruses have a lipid envelope surrounding the protein coat. Unlike cells, they can't reproduce on their own. They must enter the cell of another creature and then direct that cell to make new viruses.

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For a long time, viruses have been classified as non-living entities, but the idea that they are living things seems to be becoming more popular. Nucleic acids contain the genes that give living things many of their characteristics. Viruses have these genes, even though they can't make use of them without the aid of a cell and its equipment. Nevertheless, researchers are discovering that at least some viruses have surprisingly complex behaviour.

The Asian tiger mosquito transmits the Zika virus in some locations.

The Asian tiger mosquito transmits the Zika virus in some locations.

Infection by the Zika Virus

When foraging for food, a female mosquito pierces human skin and a blood vessel, injects an anticoagulant to stop blood from clotting, and then withdraws some blood. She needs substances in the blood in order to help her eggs to develop.

The mosquito's saliva may contain Zika virus particles that were obtained by withdrawing blood from an infected person. These particles enter the body of the mosquito's new victim during the bite. Researchers have found that species in the genus Aedes probe the skin before piercing a blood vessel and that during this process the Zika virus is deposited in the skin.

Destruction of Human Cells

In a lab experiment, some French scientists observed the response of living patches of human skin cells to the presence of Zika virus virions. (A virion is an individual virus particle.) The response may not be the same when the cells are part of our body, but they are interesting.

The researchers discovered that none of the fibroblasts in the skin were able to block the entry of the virus and that all of them were infected within 72 hours. Other types of skin cells also allowed the virus to enter.

After a virion entered a skin cell, it took control of the cell and "forced" it to make new virions. Once the viral replication had finished, autophagy occurred. This is the process in which a cell destroys some of its contents. Autophagy was followed by the cell breaking up in a process known as apoptosis (self destruction) and by the spreading of virions to new cells.

The information discovered in the experiment may be significant, but there is still much that we don't understand about the Zika virus. Little attention was paid to the virus until quite recently because the disease that it causes is generally mild and because in the past the disease wasn't widespread. Now that the virus has been linked to microcephaly, researchers are trying to learn more about it. If we understand its biology, we may be able to fight it.

Aedes Mosquitoes

At one time, mosquitoes in the genus Aedes were only found in tropical areas. Now they have spread to every continent except Antarctica. The mosquitoes have black and white markings on both their body and their legs. They are active during the day and may bite at any time during this time period. Most bites occur early in the morning and in the late afternoon and early evening.

Two species of Aedes are known to transmit the Zika virus. Aedes aegypti is the usual transmitter. It's sometimes known as the yellow fever mosquito. In the U.S., the species is most common in Hawaii and in the southern states that border the Gulf of Mexico. The insect has been found further north, though, especially when the weather is warm.

The Asian tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus, also transmits the Zika virus and is found in the warmer parts of the United States. It's unclear how significant this mosquito is in the spread of Zika virus disease.

MRIs of someone with a normal head and brain (on the left) and of someone with microcephaly

MRIs of someone with a normal head and brain (on the left) and of someone with microcephaly

Microcephaly Facts

Although a Zika virus infection is generally mild, the secondary effects that appear after the infection may be serious. Microcephaly is a sad condition in which a baby is born with an unusually small head and brain. The disorder may also develop in the first few years of life. In this case the head and brain fail to enlarge sufficiently as the child grows. Occasionally, a child with microcephaly has normal intelligence and abilities, but generally there is impairment, which ranges from mild to severe. Techniques such as speech and occupational therapy can be helpful for a person with microcephaly. The person may require special care throughout their life, however.

According to the BBC, between October, 2015 and January, 2016, the number of newborn babies in Brazil who were believed to have microcephaly had reached almost 4,000. Only 150 babies were born with microcephaly in 2014. It's no wonder that pregnant women in Brazil panicked during the disease outbreak, as reports suggest.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome Facts

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks nerves. The immune system normally attacks invaders such as bacteria and viruses and protects us from disease. Something is very wrong when the system attacks normal structures that are an essential part of the body. The syndrome is rare but serious.

The first symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome are generally muscle weakness and tingling. The symptoms can escalate, resulting in paralysis. The paralysis may be a medical emergency, especially if it affects the muscles used in breathing. The disorder requires hospital treatment. Provided they get this treatment, most people recover from the disease. They may experience lingering symptoms, however. The cause of the disease is unknown, but it is known that it develops after a person has experienced a major infection of some kind.

Preventing a Zika Virus Infection

Researchers have started the process of creating a vaccine for the Zika virus. Unfortunately, this process will probably take a long time. The best thing that we can do at the moment to prevent an infection is to avoid mosquito bites.

The CDC in the United States and health authorities in Canada are currently recommending that pregnant women avoid travelling to countries where the Zika virus is transmitted. People should contact a health agency in their own country and do some careful research before they begin to travel.

Recommended precautions to prevent mosquito bites are listed below. At the moment, these precautions are needed when travelling to a tropical country containing mosquitoes that transmit disease. Some of them may become necessary in other countries as mosquitoes spread.

  • Wear insect repellent when outdoors during the day or early evening.
  • Cover as much of the body as possible with clothing. Wear light-coloured clothing to reduce the chance of overheating.
  • Consider treating clothing with insecticide. (Safety of the insecticide for humans should be investigated in this situation.)
  • Make sure that all the windows in a building have secure screens that mosquitoes can't penetrate.
  • Close windows and use air conditioning whenever possible.
  • Keep doors closed as much as possible.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net.
  • Remove still and stagnant water around the home. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water. Even puddles or water in small items like buckets and flower pots may attract egg-laying females.
A mosquito net that hangs from a sealing; more spacious nets are attached to frames

A mosquito net that hangs from a sealing; more spacious nets are attached to frames

Where is the Zika Virus Found Today?

Quite recently, the virus was transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. The CDC says that there has been no confirmed evidence of local transmission of the disease in U.S. territories since 2018. however. Cases of Zika virus disease are still appearing on the continent, but they were caused by infection processes that occurred in other countries.

The CDC website has a map showing where infections are currently appearing. The link to the website is given in the "References" section below. Travellers–especially women who are pregnant–should check this list before planning a trip.

A Vaccine and Immunity

Researchers are attempting to create a vaccine for the Zika virus. The effort seems to be complex. Some trial versions of a vaccine have been used in lab animals, but they aren't ready for human use yet. New details about the structure of the virus have been discovered, which could be very useful for the creation of a vaccine or for the production of a medicine to fight the virus.

After the worrying situation in 2016, fewer cases of the disease were diagnosed in 2017. The trend has continued. Researchers suspect that we have reached a stage of "herd immunity" in many places. This term is used when a large proportion of a population is immune to a disease. This greatly reduces the transmission of an infection from one person to another. It seems that our body develops immunity to the Zika virus after being infected.

Researchers warn that we shouldn't become complacent. They have observed a similar decline in infections caused by viruses related to the Zika virus, only to have the disease flare up again at a later date. The CDC website still says that we need to take precautions to avoid an infection and are still recommending that pregnant women avoid travelling to areas where infections exist. I think it would be a mistake to think that the virus is no longer a foe.

Caution Is Advisable

Some health experts in the United States are saying that most of us shouldn't be scared by the Zika virus. If we become infected, our symptoms will probably be non-existent to mild. We can’t be certain about this, though. Some people may have a more unpleasant experience with the disease than others.

Guillain-Barré syndrome may be a secondary effect of the viral infection and can be very serious, but it's a rare disease and is usually treatable. The major problem linked to Zika virus is microcephaly in babies. This is the effect that is most worrying. Microcephaly is a lifelong condition.

Hopefully, researchers will discover ways to protect us from a Zika virus infection. It's unknown when this protection will be available, however. Until it appears—assuming it ever does—it’s advisable to take steps of our own to prevent Zika virus disease.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Linda Crampton


Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2016:

Thank you very much for the lovely comment, Rolly. I appreciate your visit a great deal. Your comment about your insect repellent is interesting. According to what I've read, there's no evidence that DEET is a carcinogen. Is it possible that you're thinking of DDT? It's just a thought.

Best wishes from British Columbia. I'm waving over the Rockies, too!

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on November 23, 2016:

Hi AliciaC

Wonderful article and incredible research into this which I think most are concerned about. I often think of our airborne pests. Years ago when I was in the far north and they would cover you unless you were protected was a concern. The repellents we were using at the time were as high as 95% Deet which is a know cancer causing agent. Without it one would be driven stark raving mad... lol

Hugs from Alberta and a big wave over the Rockies

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 30, 2016:

Thank you for the comment and the share, Glenis. I hope everything goes well with your daughter-in-law's pregnancy.

Glenis Rix on August 30, 2016:

I'm slightly worried - one of my sons and his family recently relocated to Singapore for 2 years. My daughter-in-law is pregnant. Sharing your advice on Facebook.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 24, 2016:

Hi, vespawoolf. The virus is certainly worrying. Like you, I hope researchers find a way to protect us. Thanks for the visit.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on May 24, 2016:

I feel like I learned a lot about the Zika virus. It's such a worry for women of childbearing age. Hopefully, a way of protecting ourselves will be found. Thank you for this informative article.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 14, 2016:

Hi, Rolly. Thank you very much for the visit and the comment. Airborne infections can definitely be scary. As you say, it's very important to find ways to prevent them!

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on March 14, 2016:

Hi AliciaC

Just reading over this amazing and informative hub reminds me of just how susceptible we have become to airborne infection in many forms, many of which are so far out of our control. It can be scary when you think of it and to know methods of prevention are so important...

Hugs from Alberta

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 11, 2016:

Hi again, Express10. The situation with respect to the Olympics is certainly worrying. I hope the research into the Zika virus proceeds rapidly so that we can understand it better. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

H C Palting from East Coast on March 10, 2016:

I was very surprised to hear this and if there is any longevity, it may be great cause for concern with the worlds athletes and spectators going to the Olympics in Brazil. According to the story that I saw on the news, there is some research underway as to the longevity of the virus in reproductive fluids. I hope that a correct answer about the longevity can be found and used to help people avoid this disease but a quick and correct answer will likely not occur soon enough to prevent more life altering infections.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 10, 2016:

Hi, Express10. Thanks for the interesting comment. According to what I've read recently, even the CDC doesn't know the longevity of the Zika virus in reproductive fluids. It's an interesting topic that could have very important consequences!

H C Palting from East Coast on March 09, 2016:

Excellent article. I would like to know what you think of the idea that this virus has longevity in reproductive body fluids? According to the nightly news here in the US, there are a couple of cases involving males who have traveled to areas where Zika is common and then returning to the US only to have offspring with Zika.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 01, 2016:

Hi, RTalloni. There are some puzzles surrounding the Zika virus. I've read that some researchers in Brazil have suggested a chemical cause for the increase in microcephaly, although I don't know how seriously this proposal is being taken. I hope the true explanation is found soon.

RTalloni on March 01, 2016:

Interesting post, as usual. Reports are saying that no microcephaly is linked to Zika in Columbia at this point so I am wondering whether researchers are actively looking for other causes of the condition in Brazil. Since microcephaly is not a new condition its history gives pause for thought. That the majority of women in the high risk range of reported statistics are from the poor, remote, and most neglected areas is something that should be straightforwardly explored and reported. Genetic defect within close knit communities has been clearly found as the cause of this disorder, though I'm not sure that's always the case. It's important to remember that mosquitos carry many diseases. The tips you've shared on bite preventions are ones everyone everywhere should heed.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 29, 2016:

Thank you very much for the comment and the share, Peggy. There have been people diagnosed with the Zika virus in Canada, too, though they became infected while they were out of the country. It's a worrying situation. It would be a shame to see the Olympic Games affected by the virus.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 29, 2016:

There have been several people already diagnosed as having the Zika virus in Houston. It is certainly a concern particularly for people wishing to become pregnant. Apparently some of our Olympic athletes are debating whether to even attend the summer Olympics because of the Zika virus being so predominate in Rio. Rather sad situation. Sharing this!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 27, 2016:

Hi, poetryman. Yes, there are certainly some serious situations in the world today, including those caused by mosquitoes. It is hard to think of something good to say about the insect! Thanks for the visit.

poetryman6969 on February 27, 2016:

Between the disease and raw sewage in Brazil and slave labor situation in the middle east it is clear there are some truly horrific venues to try to hold sports competitions.

You do have to wonder sometimes who put the mosquito into the "divine plan".

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 25, 2016:

Thank you, pinto2011. I appreciate your visit.

Subhas from New Delhi, India on February 25, 2016:

Nice to get a ring-side view of this menace. Very nicely and thoroughly explained.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 14, 2016:

Thank you very much, Flourish. I don't think that Guillain-Barré syndrome gets enough attention.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 14, 2016:

Terrific hub, not only for the information on Zika but also for highlighting Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 14, 2016:

Thanks for commenting, reza81.

Rezwanul Kabir from 269/1 Senpara Parbata, Mirpur-10, Dhaka-1216 on February 14, 2016:

May the Almighty save us from Zika virus!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2016:

Hi, Minnetonka Twin. Thank you for the comment. I feel sorry for the parents and their babies, too. It's a very sad situation. I hope a cure and an effective prevention method are discovered soon.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 12, 2016:

Thanks for the great information on this troubling virus. I feel so sad for these parents that have had babies with severe side effects. I hope they come up with a cure before this spreads.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2016:

Hi, Mel. Thanks for the visit. Your comment is interesting. About a week ago, some Brazilian researchers said that they had found the Zika virus in saliva and urine. They also said that pregnant women should be careful about who they kissed and about sharing cutlery. Other researchers said that the advice was ridiculous and that just because the virus is found in saliva doesn't mean that it's transmitted via this medium. The situation is confusing and worrying because we don't know enough about the virus. The evidence that it can be transmitted by sexual contact as well as by mosquito bites is increasing, though.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 12, 2016:

Frightening disease with a lot of misconceptions surrounding it. My wife heard on a Spanish language news source that the Zika virus can be spread by kissing, of all things. I don't think this is true, I think it is transmitted solely by mosquitoes, but I could be wrong. Do you know anything about this? She is warning my son to be careful who he kisses. I think this shows that Zika is the new scare word, just like Ebola was a year or so ago. Great hub!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 08, 2016:

Thanks for the comment, ignugent17. Yes, travel can be scary. It's important that we investigate the diseases in a country and the precautions that we need to take before we leave home.

ignugent17 on February 08, 2016:

Traveling to other places makes is scary nowadays with deadly virus just popping up.

It helps to have information about it. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 07, 2016:

Hi, Nadine. Thanks for the visit and the interesting comment. Researchers say a mutation appeared in the viral population, making it a better pathogen. In addition, the virus spreads best in crowded areas. The relatively sudden and rapid spread of the virus in Brazil is alarming and thought provoking, though. It shows what the virus is capable of doing under certain conditions.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 07, 2016:

Thanks for this very informative article on this dreadful virus. What makes me question is the following: The virus has never been responsible for any known serious outbreak of disease in Africa, so why suddenly today in Brazil? Zika virus has not yet been diagnosed in people anywhere in Africa south of Uganda and it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 04, 2016:

I'm glad you're feeling better, Jackie. As I say in the article, women in some affected areas are being advised not to have children until 2018. That is shocking! Thanks for commenting again and for sharing.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 04, 2016:

I'm good; thank you, had a bad three days but it is going away now. Hearing all about this Zika one and I sure hope they can do something! I heard something on the news advising women not to have babies until the year...something I don't remember but I tell you what a shocking thing to hear! Will share this often to keep the word out there!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 02, 2016:

It sounds like you're having an unpleasant time, Jackie. Mosquitoes and spider bites in winter are not good! I hope you don't need to see the doctor again in the near future. Thank you very much for the visit.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 02, 2016:

Wow, so interesting. I live in the southeast and what is really worrying me is I have been seeing mosquitoes off and on all winter now on days it is above freezing and I didn't know they could hatch out before spring? They are tiny and not adults so hopefully they will be killed before winter is over! They love me, let me tell you, no matter what I put on or do. I have tried everything. Now I am getting spider bites in the winter, have had about three and had to go to the doctor over the first one. I have chickens or I would just fumigate everything!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 01, 2016:

Hi, Marlene. Thank you for commenting. It certainly seems like the Zika virus can cause serious effects. I hope it doesn't become a big problem in the United States and that people in countries where it is a problem are helped.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 01, 2016:

That Zika virus is one serious virus. I have heard so much about it, but now after reading your article, I see just how serious it is. It may not be a major concern in some places, but it seems like this virus is spreading rapidly. Thank you for the valuable information you have provided here.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 31, 2016:

Yes, climate change does seem to be responsible for the spread of organisms that were previously restricted to tropical areas. It's a troubling situation. Vaccinations can certainly be useful when they're available. Thanks for the comment, Deb.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 31, 2016:

This is another effect of global warming. More tropical insects and diseases will become a very real part of life. We should be prepared to receive vaccinations for the diseases of tropical countries.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 30, 2016:

Thank you very much for the kind comment, Genna. I always appreciate your visits. The virus is interesting biologically, but the effects that it may cause are very worrying.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 30, 2016:

A very interesting article, Linda, and superbly researched and written. That this virus has started to mutate and develop into something that aids in its attack of humans is alarming, but not unusual. Thank goodness this one isn't as harmful. But I feel for the children infected. As you noted, understanding a virus assists the medical community in fighting it. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a nasty autoimmune disorder, but people eventually recover. I always learn something new with your articles, Linda. Thank you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Thank you very much for the comment and the vote, Vellur. I feel very sorry for the children affected by Zika virus, too. It's a sad situation.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 29, 2016:

Zika virus affecting the foetus is a serious problem and the poor child will have a small head and brain. I hope soon they will discover a cure for it. Great article clearing many doubts about the Zika virus, than you for sharing and voted up.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

You've made an excellent point, Larry! I appreciate your comment.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 29, 2016:

Again proving some of the scariest things in the world are invisible to the naked eye.

Great read.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Hi, Rachel. It's good that there are no mosquitoes around now. The summer could be a problem, though! Thanks for visiting.

Blessings to you, too.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on January 29, 2016:

We have been hearing about that also. I'm glad it's winter now and we don't see any mosquitos. I am very careful about them in the summer too. Thanks for all the information.

Blessings to you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Hi, Nell. The virus can definitely have horrible effects in some cases. I hope the problem is solved as quickly as possible. I appreciate your visit and comment.

Nell Rose from England on January 29, 2016:

Nice one Alicia, and so current. its awful isn't it? I have been watching the news, and knew some of it, but you have explained it perfectly. so scary to think it can spread further up America like that. and to go from 9 cases to 4,000? these mosquito's need to be eradicated, nell

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Hi, MsDora. It is a troubling virus. It's transmitted by mosquito bites the vast majority of the time, but there are a couple of cases in which the virus is believed to have been transmitted by semen. As far as I know, there's no evidence for transfer by saliva or urine yet. There's a lot that we need to learn about the virus, though. Thanks for the comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 29, 2016:

Fearful indeed, especially for women in their child bearing years. This is the first time I have heard that it can be transmitted by saliva, urine and semen. Thank you for this and all other valuable details.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Thank you so much for the comment and for sharing the hub, fpherj48! I think the information is important to know, expecially for women who are or may become pregnant. The Zika virus is very strange. It has such minor effects when it first enters the body, but the later effects can be so serious.

Suzie from Carson City on January 29, 2016:

Alicia....Thank you so much for this invaluable information. This is definitely a must read. I intend to mass mail your link to all my family & friends.....Everyone should be aware and educated on this topic!......Great Public service, Alicia!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

I hope the problem is solved soon too, Bill. There's no sign of a treatment yet. The best protection seems to be the prevention of mosquito bites. Thanks for visiting.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Thanks for the visit, Devika. Yes, it looks like the number of cases will increase. It's very sad when a disease has permanent consequences.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Hi, Buildreps. Thank you for the comment. The development of diseases is certainly a fascinating and thought provoking topic!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 29, 2016:

Hi, Sally. I don't think there will be a quick fix, either. It's a very worrying situation for pregnant women living in affected areas. Thanks for the visit.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 29, 2016:

Thanks for clarifying. This was on the news last night...spreading quickly...let's hope they find a cure soon before this becomes a larger problem.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 29, 2016:

Hi AliciaC there are many cases and this will increase. You gave me a better idea on about this virus. Weather is a cause of this virus. Important and urgent information.

Buildreps from Europe on January 29, 2016:

Great and very informative article. Mosquitoes are a serious problem, but also part of nature we have to deal with. It seems as if every time new diseases arise seemingly out of nothing. I'm wondering if there's a real good explanation for it besides something like the 'result of random mutations.' In other words 'we don't know'.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on January 29, 2016:

A very worrying virus indeed, one which the implications and long-term effects will be felt for a very long time. I don't think this is going to be a quick fix either.