#AToZJamaicaChallenge: Z is for Zika (Finally, Inevitably)

Well, this is the final chapter in the wanderings through the alphabet that my colleagues Dennis Jones, Susan Goffe and I embarked on at the beginning of the month. Sadly and ironically perhaps, it must end with a topic that we have become pretty obsessed with in the last few months. Ms. Goffe should have had this letter though, as she is far more expert on the latest mosquito-borne virus than I am!

How the Zika virus spread to our side of the world.
How the Zika virus spread to our side of the world.

Both my husband and I had the Zika virus at roughly the same time. After a few twinges of joint pain (reminiscent of the joys of chikungunya – the last virus we suffered from back in 2014!) we then started to feel slightly feverish and rather tired. Then we had rashes on our arms and legs. After a day, the rashes were gone. And that was that.

We all know by now that Zika is actually quite sinister. Online reports appear daily with details of a new and daunting discovery. There is so much uncertainty that it makes your head hurt. It is worse than all the other horrible viruses, because of its almost ephemeral quality. Is Zika making itself up as it goes along? Are we going to see lots of babies born with microcephaly (which I had never heard of until a few months ago?)

The Zika and Chikungunya viruses, curiously, were both uncovered in Central/Eastern Africa at almost exactly the same time: Zika in 1948 (in a rhesus monkey) and then in humans in 1952 and Chik V in 1952. Are they connected? And what about dengue, which has been around for a long time in the Caribbean?

The Zika virus looks quite attractive in this illustration, doesn't it? (from artofthecell.com)
The Zika virus looks quite attractive in this illustration, doesn’t it? (from artofthecell.com)

I am not going to post one of those awful closeup photos of an aedes aegyptii mosquito sitting on someone’s skin. We have seen enough of those.

All I know is that up to a few years ago, mosquitoes were just a nuisance. Now, in our eco-friendly household, we are training a small army of lizards to hunt them down! (Our letter “L”)…

 

 


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