Zika Virus Reaches China

Michelle Quin ’19

On February 10, China confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in a 34-year-old man who had recently travelled to South America. Since then, more cases have been reported, and a 3rd case was confirmed on February 19. An outbreak of the virus first appeared in Brazil in April 2015 and has become prevalent throughout all of South America.

According to BBC News, “Chinese authorities have downplayed the risk of [the Zika virus] spreading there, because of the winter cold.” The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and can be passed from an infected person to a non-infected mosquito, continually increasing the amount of airborne carriers. Since mosquitoes are far less active in lower temperatures, it is believed that this exponential cycle of infection between mosquitoes and humans will not occur in China.

Currently, the Zika virus cannot be prevented by a vaccine or drugs, but is typically not severe and can be treated with a week of rest and fluids. The virus itself causes either non-existent or mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Only 1 in 5 people infected become ill, and they do not need to seek hospitalization to recover.

The Zika virus’ effects, while temporary and non-life threatening in most cases, are drastically different for pregnant women. The virus has been linked to abnormal brain development in fetuses, leading to either miscarriages or microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains.

Due to the possible risks the Zika virus poses for pregnant women, South American countries have been urging women to postpone their pregnancy plans. If the cold weather does not prevent mosquitoes from spreading the virus throughout China, then China may potentially have to issue the same warnings. Now that China’s one-child policy has been repealed, an increase in pregnancy plans is expected, making the Zika virus’ implications in China untimely and grave.


China confirms third case of deadly Zika virus. (2016, February 19). Retrieved from

China’s first Zika virus case confirmed, reports say – BBC News. (2016, February 10). Retrieved from

Zika Virus – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, February 19). Retrieved from


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