Zika Virus Disease is a mosquito born virus spread through an infected bite of an Aedes mosquito or transmitted sexually. Zika has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; the first since the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in 2014. For the most part, Zika produces mild symptoms such as rash, fever, joint pain, and red eyes. Zika symptoms usually last a couple days to a week and don’t usually require hospitalization. However, Zika does present a large risk to pregnant women because Zika has been linked to infants born with microcephaly, a birth defect in which a newborn’s head is smaller than average. Additionally, Zika has been linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome in adults, an autoimmune disease in which an individual’s immune system attacks nerve cells, causing muscle weakness or paralysis.
Previous outbreaks have been seen in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. May 2015, Brazil confirmed its first case, and has since spread to much of Central and South America, and North America. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois currently has ten cases of Zika.