Pernambuco State, Brazil, struggles with 3 viruses - dengue, chikungunya and Zika
Outbreaks of dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika are all occurring simultaneously in Pernambuco State. In 1 week, there were 2,355 new cases of these infections confirmed by laboratory tests. Approximately 48% of these were due to chikungunya, 52% were due to dengue, and less than 1% were caused by Zika. Across the state, 184 municipalities are reporting infected people. The island of Fernando de Noronha has the highest levels of transmission.
The viruses that cause dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika are all transmitted by the same mosquito. Since approximately 80% of people infected with Zika have few, if any, symptoms, they do not seek medical attention and are not counted. So the total number of people infected with Zika virus is unknown.
All travellers to areas where these viruses are active can reduce their risk of exposure by taking all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
There is strong scientific evidence that this virus may be the cause of microcephaly (small brain) in newborn infants. As a precautionary measure, women who are pregnant, especially in their first trimester, should consider postponing travel to countries where this virus is spreading or, at a minimum, take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Guillain–Barré syndrome is relatively rare condition characterized by the rapid-onset of a neurological illness with muscle weakness that may develop over half a day to four weeks and that may affect the breathing muscles.
At present, the association between Zika virus and this syndrome is still under investigation. While further scientific evidence is being accumulated, as a precautionary measure, travellers can minimize the risk of exposure to Zika virus by taking all necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites. If neurological symptoms appear after visiting areas where Zika virus is present, travellers should consult their physician immediately.