A number of people have voiced concerns about the Zika virus and whether it would affect the Canaries where mosquitos can be an issue at certain times of the year.
In a document prepared by the Epidemiology and Prevention Service of the Directorate General of Public Health to all primary care physicians of the Canary Health Service, updated information on the evolution of the disease caused by Zika virus in America is discussed, so that doctors can address any concerns from their patients.
The document recommends advises travelers to avoid areas of high risk – which currently covers 23 countries in the Americas… mainly South America. However, it says that the Canaries are not currently at any risk.
Since there is no treatment or vaccine against the disease, the document recommends people in affected areas do what they can to avoid being bitten – through the use of mosquito nets, sprays and creams.
In the Canaries there is no evidence that the platform exists for the transmission of the Zika virus because although that strain of mosquito is not there, the virus has not been detected despite the regular links with affected countries. Therefore, they state that there is currently no risk of introduction or indigenous transmission of the disease, although introduction of the virus by someone who acquired the disease in any of the countries affected by the outbreak is possible.
What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is an emerging disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The virus initially presents mild symptoms that may go unnoticed or diagnosed as dengue, chikungunya and other viral diseases that manifest with a fever and rash.
In May 2015 the indigenous transmission of Zika virus was confirmed in Brazil and currently (as of January 2016) indigenous circulation of Zika virus is confirmed in 23 countries including Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, French Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Surinam and Venezuela.
The Zika virus belongs to the same family as the dengue virus, yellow fever or Japanese encephalitis family. It was discovered for the first time in 1947, in the Zika forest in Uganda, during surveillance studies of jungle yellow fever in desusar monkeys.
The main symptoms are fever (> 37.2 ° C), maculopapular rash (it often spreads from the face to the body), arthritis or arthralgia with transient inflammation of joints (especially in the small joints of the hands and feet) conjunctival hyperemia and other nonspecific symptoms including myalgia, fatigue and headache.
Recent studies have suggested a link between the virus and child brain defects when the virus is contracted by expectant mothers. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an Epidemiological Alert to the increase of birth defects (microcephaly and others) and other neurological manifestations in areas where the Zika virus circulates.
The incubation period ranges from 3 to 12 days and the duration of symptoms is 2 to 7 days.
The laboratory diagnosis is based on virus isolation or detection in clinical samples by PCR or by serological tests. The National Center for Microbiology is the national reference laboratory arbovirosis and has capacity for diagnosis of the Zika virus infection.
Zika virus in Spain
“Rapid Risk Assessment of disease transmission by Zika virus in Spain” published by the Coordinator of Emergency Health Alerts and the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality Centre concludes that there is a moderate to low risk of introduction and autochthonous transmission of Zika in Spain, given the rapid spread of the virus through the region of the Americas, Spain’s frequent communication with these countries and the presence of the relevant mosquito type in seven Autonomous Regions: Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, Aragon and the Basque Country.
Vector-borne diseases are a priority in the Directorate General of Public Health. In the Canary Islands it has been working for years in detecting disease-carrying mosquitoes; in 2008 the community joined the Transnational Cooperation Programme with the aim of creating risk maps for mosquito-borne diseases.
Such incorporation marked the completion of the first study, by the University Institute of Tropical Enfermedes and Public Health at the University of La Laguna, into the transmission of vectors of tropical diseases carried out in the Canary Islands since 1987 and included the analysis of the presence of resident species already known in the Canary Islands (such as Culex pipiens, Culex and Culiseta longiareolata theileri).
Subsequently, in 2011 the University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health at the University of La Laguna and the Directorate General of Public Health conducted a study on the facilities of the Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a possible entry point for foreign transmitters of diseases. Tenerife, La Palma and Gran Canaria began spraying their ports and airports as a defensive measure in late 2012 following the outbreak of Dengue which at that time was taking place in the island of Madeira.