Initially discovered in 1947, Zika virus infection received little notoriety as a tropical disease until 2015 when an outbreak of microcephaly cases was reported in Brazil. Zika is a single-stranded RNA arbovirus of the Flaviviridae family. The primary source of infection in humans stems from Aedes aegypti mosquito bites but can also occur through sexual, blood, and perinatal transmission. With expectations that 3 to 4 million people across the Americas will be infected over the next year, the World Health Organization has declared this event a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Although acute Zika virus infection is typically mild and self-limited, researchers have demonstrated serious neurologic complications associated with it such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Otolaryngologists should be aware of head and neck manifestations which include conjunctivitis, retro-orbital pain, cephalgia, and odynophagia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed specific molecular and serologic testing protocols and algorithms for follow-up care of suspected cases. Currently, the mainstay of management is conservative care while researchers attempt to develop a vaccine. Strategies to contain the Zika virus include vector control, travel restriction for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, and avoidance of mosquito bites in endemic regions of the world.
Conclusions and Revelance
The future outlook regarding the current Zika virus outbreak in the Americas remains uncertain. What is certain is our need to promptly and efficiently address research gaps in our understanding of clinical outcomes from infection and environmental factors that influence emergence meanwhile improving diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive measures against the disease.
Arnaoutakis D, Padhya T. Zika Virus—What the Otolaryngologist Should Know: A Review. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;143(1):81–84. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.3427
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