Study findings reveal the Zika virus outbreaks in Tanzania

National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)’s study aimed at finding out whether the Zika virus exists in Tanzania, show that 15.6 per cent of the 533 people whose blood samples were tested have Zika virus.

Presenting the institute’s achievements over the year, NIMR Director General, Dr Mwele Malecela, said in Dar es Salaam the study also discovered that out of 80 toddlers born with physical disabilities, 43.8 per cent were traced with the virus. NIMR conducted the study in partnership with Bugando Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, she said.

“The study aimed at finding out whether the virus exists in the country and if it bore effects on children born with physical disabilities,” said Dr Malecela, noting that lines of medical research are going on to determine the extent at which the virus has spread in the country.

The DG further revealed that the institute has undertaken another research on alcohol use as a contributing factor to the spread of HIV/AIDS virus among Tanzanians. Preliminary investigations show excessive use of alcohol among the youth is increasingly becoming a serious problem, Daily News reports.

Dr Malecela underscored the need for the government to prepare new policies guiding production, sale and consumption of alcohol in the country, pointing out that NIMR has started implementing new strategies in experimenting HIV/AID virus named P5. The experimentation is also being done in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever The first large outbreak of disease caused by Zika infection was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. In July 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

United Nations’ body for health; World Health organisation outlines some of the symptoms of Zika including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache which normally last for 2 to7 days.

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