This post was contributed by guest bloggers Keith Pardee and Alexander A. Green.
First identified in 1947 in Uganda, the Zika virus had received little attention and, for the most part, had been associated with low morbidity and mild symptoms. This changed in January with the report of an outbreak of the virus in Brazil that was correlated with greater rates of infection and rare, but severe, symptoms, including the development of fetal microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In response, the World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency and called for the fast-tracked development of diagnostics. Mostly transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (aegypti and albopictus) and, aided by international travel, the Zika virus is expected to expand into heavily populated regions of South, Central, and North America. Diagnostics will play an important role in helping to monitor and slow this spread until vaccine programs can be put in place to provide community protection.