Our world is constantly changing. As technology advances, people and communities that have historically been far from each other, can easily communicate and collaborate with one another. For many of us living in the United States reaching people across the globe can quickly happen through the use of smartphone technologies.
The same technological advancements that have made communications simpler are the same advancements that have allowed communicable diseases to infiltrate new territories. One such disease that has caught the international eye is the Zika Virus. This virus is a vector born disease, which is transferred to the human host through the Aedes mosquito. In recent months the Zika Virus has quickly swept through Latin America. In January 2016, Brazil reported the highest incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome. After many months of speculation about the connection between Zika Virus and cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, it was confirmed by the World Health Organization in February 2016 that Zika Virus seems to trigger the development Guillain-Barré syndrome infants. Guillain-Barré is a very rare, and serious autoimmune disorder, resulting in infants having a small head and compromised central nervous systems. Infants born with this disease need a lifetime of constant attention and health care assistance.
So how did Zika Virus, which was first identified in Uganda in 1947, have such a devastating effect across Latin America? Prior to Brazil reporting the a high incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome in January 2016, Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014. The World Cup brought many spectators from many parts of the world. Perhaps these spectators provided the Aedes misquote an opportunity to flourish in a new but similar tropical climate.
In just a few weeks Brazil is hosting the 2016 summer Olympics. This event could produce similar conditions that allowed the outbreak of Zika Virus across Latin America, and the high incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome. As the world watches the summer Olympics the world will also be watching for opportunities to reduce further transmission of Zika Virus.