Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was first identified in humans in Uganda and Tanzania. Outbreaks of the disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were predominantly across Africa and Asia, and were typically accompanied by mild illness. The first large outbreak of disease caused by Zika infection was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. In 2015 an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly was reported.
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease isn’t well defined but is likely to be a few days similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue. Initial symptoms which are usually mild include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache and last for 2-7 days.
A comprehensive review of evidence, has confirmed that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, and some evidence exists that other neurological disorders are linked with Zika infection.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. Aedes mosquitoes are the same genus that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Sexual transmission of Zika virus has been confirmed with other modes of transmission being investigated.
Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (e.g. residence in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission). A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.
Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
Stabilitech is in the unique position of being able to deliver reproducible doses of infectious non replicating viral vectors to the luminal surface of the intestinal mucosa. Once the epithelial lining cells are infected they can produce proteins which can find their way to the circulatory system. Once there they can be recognised as foreign with concomitant raising of an immune response. Experimental investigations using exemplar antigen have shown that a humoral response is raised after oral administration.
Stabilitech’s approach offers several obvious advantages over current vaccination regimen. These include easy self-administration of vaccine which would be in the form of a tablet; long shelf life at ambient temperature.