Zika virus infection is an emerging infection now widespread through much of Latin America. There is a strong potential that this infection will continue to spread. A Zika infection spreads through mosquito bites and is typically manifested as a mild flu-like illness, fever, a rash, conjunctivitis, and joint pains but most cases are “silent”, meaning that the infected person feels no symptoms at all. Health authorities such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization harbor serious concerns that an infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects in new borns whose mothers may have been infected with the Zika virus. The latest list of all the countries covered by the CDC Travel Alert Level 2 can be found here: CDC Travel Health Information.
The Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) has confirmed 50 Zika cases. To date, the outbreak has been confined to the Guna Yala province. MINSA Department of Epidemiology is working with the Gorgas Memorial Institute to control mosquitos in the affected areas. Gorgas provides the testing facilities for Zika. The latest notices from MINSA can be found here.
For the latest and more in-depth information, please also see the following:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika Virus