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Zika Virus

With all of the coverage in the news about the Zika virus in 2016, it is understandable that Philadelphians may have questions about this disease. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has not been found in Philadelphia, but Zika is still present in tropical places and various countries. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is working hard to identify travelers with this infection, prevent emergence and spread of the disease in Philadelphia, and keep residents informed about Zika.

Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. However, Zika can also be spread sexually, and from pregnant mother to baby. The illness is usually mild but it can have serious consequences in pregnant women and their babies. Zika infections during pregnancy have been linked to fetal loss and birth defects including microcephaly (small brain and skull) in newborns.

Zika was first identified in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda, and traditionally has been found in Africa and Southeast Asia. Human cases of Zika were first detected in 1952. Since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because the virus had emerged in numerous countries and regions in the western hemisphere, like Mexico and countries in the Caribbean and Central/South America.

CDC: Zika Virus

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