Zika Virus and Eye Care

Zika Virus and your eyes

The newest mosquito borne disease has been all over the news and will get more coverage the closer to the Summer Olympics we get. It has spread from South America to Central America and is now being found in the United States, Europe and Canada.

It can present to an eye doctors office and appear much like “pink”eye which is an adeno-viral conjunctivitis. Symptoms can be variable but include redness, discomfort, tearing, light sensitivity and possible swollen lymph nodes or adenopathy.

  • Questions to ask:
    1. History of recent illness –upper respiratory infection.
    2. Did it start on one side and spread to the other?
    3. Have the eyes been watery or any mucous discharge?

Zika is a RNA virus first discovered in Uganda in the 1940s.  It is self limiting but is associated with microcephaly birth defects.  The most common route of transmission is via an infected mosquito, but has been documented to spread by sexual contact and blood transfusion.  Incubation of a few days upto one week with the most common symptoms may manifest as conjunctivitis, fever, rash, joint pain, headache, fatigue, malaise, and muscle pain.  Most infected people experience mild symptoms and quickly produce antibodies and fully recover. Of most concern are pregnant women due to microcephaly and it’s link to Zika.

Testing can be done by the Health Department for Zika if:

  • Currently pregnant woman, non-pregnant person having 2+ symptoms within 2 weeks of travel to an area with Zika activity
    •  maculopapular rash
    • fever
    • conjunctivitis
    • arthralgia

ZIKV illness is a notifiable condition. Doctors are encouraged to report suspected cases to local health departments.