With Zika virus outbreaks happening in Southeast Asia in the last few months, you might be wondering which countries in Americas suffered the most confirmed cases of Zika since the outbreak in Brazil in 2015 – that’s why we created a list of top 10 countries with Zika virus in the Americas. As Zika virus is primarily transmitted to humans via mosquito bites, and in some very rare cases causes death – you might want to check out our list of 11 Animals That Killed The Most People in The World and see how high mosquitoes are ranked.
Things are not always what they seem to be. The existence of Zika virus was acknowledged more than half a century ago, yet only after an outbreak in Brazil in July 2015 the long lasting perception of it being just a mild illness started to change, as scientists discovered a possible association between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome and a few months later an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly. “Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.” Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare nervous system disease that is potentially life threatening, but its causes are not well understood, except that it is usually preceded by an infection (bacterial or viral) or vaccination. Taking into account that about 80% of Zika infections go without any symptoms and that those with symptoms are usually mild and short-lasting, it’s no wonder that it took so long and such a big epidemic for Zika to be connected with Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly, which are both very rare diseases. In April 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that Zika virus is indeed a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
If you are pregnant and planning a trip, you should avoid going to any of the afflicted countries and our top 10 countries with Zika Virus in the Americas just won’t cut it – you should definitely check out Zika travel information released by the CDC. It’s worth mentioning that Zika is also transmittable through sex, and possibly blood transfusion although the latter is yet to be confirmed.
For the creation of our list, we used the most comprehensive available data set on Zika cases coming from the Pan American Health Organization organized on Knoema. We considered using incidence rate as our sorting methodology, with incidence rate being the ratio of the number of cases to the total time the population is at risk of disease. Nevertheless, we realized that using that particular measure would have left one of the countries that was hit by Zika the hardest out of the top ten because of its large population, and would have given higher ranking to a number of small islands, considering the number of deaths, microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome cases that those countries suffered. Therefore, we felt that incidence rate would not provide a realistic picture. For our sorting methodology, we decided to use a number of confirmed cases per country.