Zika Virus Essay

  • Last Edited: December 19, 2018
zika virus essay


Writing a paper about a complex issue such as the Zika virus can be a challenging enterprise, but the model essay presented below provides some useful guidance concerning how to get started, including developing an appropriate thesis, writing an outline and locating relevant content from reliable and legitimate sources. Writing an abstract, introduction and conclusion becomes easier once the preliminary research for the body of the essay is completed.


The Effects of Zika virus on pregnant women

How the Zika virus is spread from country to country

Identifying opportunities to reduce Zika virus infections

Will the Zika virus become a pandemic?


The Epidemiology of the Zika Virus

The Origins and Transmission of the Zika Virus

The Zika Virus:  Who is at Risk and What Can be Done?


I.  Introduction

II.  Review and Discussion

A.  Background and overview

B.  Recent and current trends in Zika virus infections

C.  What can be done to reduce the risk of Zika virus infections

III.  Conclusion


Recent and Current Trends in Global Zika Virus Infections



First serendipitously identified in 1947 in Uganda through monitoring for yellow fever, the primarily mosquito-borne Zika virus has since become a global public health threat, with outbreaks occurred in the far corners of the world including the Island of Yap as well as heavily populated areas such as Brazil. Although the symptoms of the Zika virus are relatively mild for most people, pregnant women are at risk due to a growing body of scientific evidence that indicates a link with microcephaly and a trigger for Guillain-Barre syndrome. This evidence resulted in the World Health Organization classifying the Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in early 2016, and there have been outbreaks reported in 20 countries and territories since active surveillance began in earnest. This essay provides a brief description of the Zika virus and an analysis of recent and current trends in global Zika virus infections. The paper concludes with a summary of the research and important findings concerning this growing global public health threat.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that members of the Flaviviridae family are all grouped in a single genus, flavivirus (Flaviviridae, 2016). These mosquito-borne pathogens include yellow fever, West Nile viruses, Dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and Zika virus, all of which can infect humans, and all of which can cause large-scale illnesses and even deaths (Flaviviridae, 2016). At present, there is no known vaccine or medicine for treating the Zika virus and there have been reports of Zika virus outbreaks all over the world, including most especially Africa and Asia but even on remote islands and the continental United States in Miami-Dade County, Florida as well (Questions about Zika, 2016). In order to determine the facts about the Zika virus, this paper provides a brief description of the Zika virus and risk factors, followed by an analysis of recent and current trends in global Zika virus infections. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings concerning this mounting global public health threat are provided in the conclusion.


Background and overview

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda from a single captive sentinel rhesus monkey in 1947 by scientists who were monitoring for yellow fever (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). In a seminal study conducted by Dick, Kitchen and Haddow (1952), the first report of a Zika virus isolation from a rhesus monkey was confirmed in 1947 and a second isolation was confirmed in 1948, with the virus being named for the locality in which these isolations were made. Research at this time also confirmed that the Zika virus was not related to yellow fever (Dick et al., 1952).

There were subsequently numerous reports of Zika virus antibody detections in the region during the 1950s including confirmed cases of human infection in Uganda again in 1952 as well as the United Republic of Tanzania (Zika virus fact sheet, 2016). During the period from the early 1960s through the 1980s, there were increasing reports of Zika virus infections in humans; these reports, though, were largely restricted to Africa and Asia and were only thought to cause relatively mild symptoms (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). In 2007, the first major Zika virus outbreak in humans occurred on the Federated States of Micronesia on the island of Yap and epidemiologists tracked the virus’s progress as it traveled inexorably across the Pacific in a southeasterly direction (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). Since that time, there have been additional reports of Zika virus infections in other countries and territories and these disturbing trends are discussed further below.

Recent and current trends in Zika virus infections

Between 2013 and 2014, researchers investigating a new outbreak of the Zika virus in French Polynesia retrospectively identified a connection between Zika infections and Guillain-Barre syndrome which can cause microcephaly in pregnant women, a condition that results in a disproportionately small head compared to the body in newborns (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). In mid-2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported locally transmitted infections in Brazil and public health authorities there also confirmed a link between Zika virus infections and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults, but there remained a lack of solid scientific evidence to confirm this causal link at this time (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016).

By early 2016, though, increasing reports of Zika infections from across the globe and a growing body of scientific evidence concerning the link with microcephaly and as a trigger for Guillain-Barre syndrome compelled the WHO to classify the Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). In fact, by the end of February 2016, around half a million people in the Americas alone had been infected by the Zika virus (Lessler & Ott, 2016). Some authorities believe that global warming is facilitating the breeding of Zika virus carrying mosquitoes, and additional species may be implicated in its transmission (Late, 2016).

Although the precise link between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome remains unclear, the higher incidence rates for this disorder in Zika virus endemic regions have resulted in increased surveillance by epidemiologists (Kandel & Lamichhane, 2016). The severity of the effects of the Zika virus in some individuals underscores the overarching need to provide pregnant women with protections as well as the need to ensure that blood supplies are protected, especially in regions where there is a known risk as well as in countries where there are large numbers of consumers returning from travel to countries where there are known Zika virus outbreaks (Lessler & Ott, 2016).

Since the classification by the WHO of the Zika virus as a PHEIC in February 2016, more than 20 countries and territories around the world, including the Americas, have reported outbreaks of the Zika virus, with one outbreak in Cabo Verde in western Africa numbering in the thousands (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). According to Costello and Dau (2016), by May 5, 2016, there had been reports of microcephaly or other disorders that were assumed to be associated with the Zika virus infections in the following countries and territories:

  • Brazil (1271 cases);
  • Cabo Verde (3 cases);
  • Colombia (7 cases);
  • French Polynesia (8 cases);
  • Martinique (2 cases) and,
  • Panama (4 cases).

Beyond the foregoing, there have also been some recent updates to these Zika virus cases, and a summary of the most recent surveillance data from WHO is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Situation report:   Zika virus, Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome as of March 10, 2017

Category Update
Countries, territories and subnational areas reporting vector-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) infections for the first time since February 1, 2017 None
Countries and territories reporting microcephaly and other central nervous system malformations potentially associated with ZIKV infection for the first time since February 1, 2017 Mexico, Saint Martin
tries and territories reporting Guillain-Barré syndrome cases associated with ZIKV infection for the first time since February 1, 2017 Curaçao, Trinidad and Tobago


Source:  WHO (2017), Zika situation report

Based on the results of their analysis of the current global Zika virus situation, Omole and Foloranmi conclude that, “Responding to the Zika virus with ad hoc solutions is not sustainable and as Ebola showed, there is no substitute to developing national health system capacities” (p. 333). Mosquito-control initiatives in many developing countries and territories that have experienced vector-borne Zika infectious outbreaks, however, are constrained due to a lack of resources and coordination with neighboring countries as well as the sheer enormity of the insect populations, especially along the Amazon basin.

Although other human infections have been reported around the world, the infected mothers in these cases shared a history of travel to and from countries such as Brazil where the virus is endemic during their pregnancies (Costello & Dau, 2016). Moreover, besides existing mosquito-borne vectors, infection rates from the Zika virus are also expected to continue to rise due to international travelers visiting locations where the virus is endemic and then transmitting it to their sexual partners upon their return (Kindhauser & Allen, 2016). In addition, the WHO is investigating the potential for transmission through blood transfusions (Zika virus, 2016).

What can be done to reduce the risk of Zika virus infections

Taken together, the foregoing trends beg the question as to whether ordinary citizens in the United States should be worried about the Zika virus. To date, the only instances of a mosquito-borne Zika infection have been limited to Brownsville, Texas and southern Florida in the contiguous states, but a number of regions of the United States have the species of mosquito that are responsible for these transmissions, and U.S. territories that are regarded as being at the highest risk are Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Hawaii (Potential Zika range in the U.S., 2017). In addition, there have been more than 400 travel-related Zika cases reported in the U.S. as well as eight cases caused by sexual transmission to date (Late, 2016). Moreover, epidemiologists caution that the mosquito species responsible for transmitting the Zika virus may spread as far north as New York State by the summer of 2016, (McDermott, 2016).

Although there remains a lack of an efficacious vaccine for the Zika virus vaccine at present, there is a growing body of research concerning its epidemiology that will facilitate its development in the foreseeable future (Omole & Folaranmi, 2016). In addition, it is also known that prevention and control strategies for mosquitoes that transmit malaria can also be effective at controlling Zika virus carrying mosquitoes (Omole & Folaranmi, 2016). Most Zika virus researchers advocate a more intensive and coordinated approach between neighboring countries in high-risk regions, and recommend that environmental management strategies that are designed to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds as well as the use of environmentally friendly solutions such as fish species that eat mosquito larvae (Omole & Folaramni, 2016).

In addition, there are some other simple, low-cost, low-tech steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of mosquito-borne Zika infections, including the following:

How to Prevent Zika Virus

  1. Check for mosquito breeding taking place in and around houses;
  2. Because the mosquito that carries Zika virus breeds in fresh water, prevent water from collecting in birdbaths, planters, non-used bottles, containers, discarded waste, old tires and so forth;
  3. Use insect repellents that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  4. Use mosquito-netting on beds in high-risk areas if air conditioning is not available;
  5. Grow plants that are known to repel mosquitoes such as citronella, basil, lemon grass, lavender, mint, and rosemary; and,
  6. Dress appropriately with attire that covers most of the body parts (Protect yourself, 2017; Worried about Zika?, 2016).


The Zika virus is a member of the Flaviviridae family in the genus, flavivirus. Other members of this largely mosquito-borne genus include yellow fever, West Nile viruses, Dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis, all of which can cause infections in humans. Although the symptoms of the Zika virus are relatively mild for most people, there is no vaccine or medicine available for treating these infections and pregnant women are at particular risk due to the growing body of scientific evidence that indicates a link between Zika infections and microcephaly as well as its potential as a trigger for Guillain-Barre syndrome. In sum, the Zika virus joins a growing list of animal-borne pathogens that represent a threat to global public health, especially for pregnant women, due in large part to the ease with which people can travel internationally and a lack of awareness concerning how the virus is transmitted and public health measures to control mosquito populations.

Although getting started may be the hardest part, the model above clearly demonstrates that developing and following an outline and using reliable resources facilitates writing a solid essay on a complex issue such as the Zika virus by helping students organize their thoughts and resources. A Google search for “Zika virus” returns nearly 38 million matches, and the model above also underscores the need to identify the most relevant and appropriate resources to include in your  paper. In sum, the example essays we provide can help you get started, guide you through the research process and develop a finely crafted paper on virtually any topic.

Works Cited / Resources

Costello, A. & Dua, T. (2016, June). Defining the syndrome associated with congenital Zika virus infection. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(6), 406.

Dick, G. W., Kitchen, F. & Haddow, A. J. (1952, September 1). Zika virus. Isolations and serological specificity. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 46(5), 509-520.

Flaviviridae. (2016). U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/virus-families/flaviviridae.html

Kandel, N. & Lamichhane, J. (2016, September). Detecting Guillain-Barre syndrome caused by Zika virus using systems developed for polio surveillance. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(9), 705-707.

Kindhauser, M. K. & Allen, T. (2016, September). The origin and spread of a mosquito-borne virus:  Zika. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(9), 675-677.

Late, M. (2016, July). Researchers estimate high-risk US cities for Zika transmission. The Nation’s Health, 46(5), 14.

Lessler, J. & Ott, C. T. (2016, November). Times to key events in Zika virus infection and implications for blood donation: A systematic review. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(11), 841-845.

McDermott, I. E. (2016, July-August). Tracking pandemics on the Web: Around the world as ‘fast as money.’ Online Searcher, 40(4), 27-31.

Omole, O. & Folaranmi, T. (2016, November 1). Zika virus in Africa: Revitalizing the discourse of health systems. Perspectives in Public Health, 136(6), 333.

Potential Zika range in the U.S. (2017). U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/zika/reporting/2017-case-counts.html

Questions about Zika. (2016). U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from New York Times Online

Zika virus. (2016). World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

Worried about Zika? Here’s how you can avoid the virus. (2016, February 4). Hindustan Times, 3.

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