Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 brings new cases of Zika virus to SW Africa

On January 11th, the first two recent cases of Zika infection in Africa were reported from Angola. The infection was reported in a French tourist and a local from Luanda, the nation’s capital. Health officials in the region are teaming up with WHO to investigate new and suspected cases. The country is taking swift action due to its recent history of ebola (2014), cholera (2016), and yellow fever (2016) outbreaks. At this time, it is unknown whether the Brazilian strain of Zika is the culprit of these two infections. However, it is likely as Cape Verde, an island off the western coast of Africa reported the prevalence of the Brazilian strain in May 2016.

It is important to reiterate that this isn’t the first time that Zika has reached Africa. As we learned last quarter, Zika was first discovered in Uganda in its namesake forest in 1947.

Zika poses a major threat to the residents of Angola due to rampant poverty and weak infrastructure. The weaknesses of Angola’s health departments in reaching and treating patients were highlighted during the outbreaks of cholera and yellow fever last year.  


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