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. And now, let’s see the list of top 10 countries with Zika virus in the Americas.
10. Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
With 643 confirmed cases and one confirmed congenital syndrome associated with Zika, this twin island country is at the bottom of our list of top 10 countries with Zika virus in the Americas.
9. The Republic of Suriname
This smallest country in South America managed to get into our top ten with 723 confirmed cases, 2 congenital syndromes and even 4 deaths, being one of only three countries with cases of Zika virus resulting in death directly and not through the complications of Zika-induced microcephaly or Guillain-Barré syndrome.
8. The Republic of Ecuador
Having 806 confirmed cases, and no confirmed congenital syndromes, Ecuador scores 8th. However, it should be kept in mind that having no confirmed cases of microcephaly, unfortunately, does not guarantee that there were none, because it’s possible that they weren’t connected.
7. The Republic of Costa Rica
With 1,375 cases and one case of the confirmed congenital syndrome, the Republic of Costa Rica shows a slow but steady rise of confirmed cases as we go higher up on the list.
6. The Republic of Nicaragua
The Largest country in Central American isthmus comes in sixth place with 2,033 confirmed Zika virus infections and no confirmed congenital syndromes.
5. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
This country bordering Brazil and Colombia compared to them appears lucky with just 2,244 confirmed cases and no confirmed congenital syndromes.
4. The United Mexican States
With a fairly large number of 6,094 confirmed Zika cases, it sure is strange that there are no confirmed cases of congenital syndromes in Mexico. Mexico is either very lucky, or there are some unknown variables at play.
3. The Republic of Colombia
Getting closer to the top, we reach the number of 57 unlucky mothers that had given birth to children with the congenital syndrome in the Republic of Colombia thanks to Zika Virus and 8,826 confirmed cases of infection.
2. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
With only three confirmed cases of congenital syndromes on a pretty big number of 32,730 confirmed cases, it seems strange when compared to Colombia’s numbers, however, it is up to scientists to discover why there are such discrepancies. In addition, Puerto Rico also suffered 5 deaths.
1. The Federative Republic of Brazil
The world’s fifth-largest country definitely suffered the worst epidemic of Zika virus. With 109,596 confirmed cases, 2,106 congenital syndromes and 6 deaths it holds the first place on our list. Developments in Brazil contributed the most to finding and confirming connection of Zika Virus with congenital syndromes as well as connection with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Even though The World Health Organization announced that Zika Virus no longer poses a world public health emergency, and is now considered a chronic problem, on the same day Brazil’s Health Minister Ricardo Barros told journalists: “We will maintain the emergency (status) in Brazil until we are completely tranquil about the situation” – that statement alone shows that Brazil is rightfully ranked as number one on our list. And so we conclude our top 10 countries with Zika virus in the Americas.