The Zika epidemic has been growing since 2007, and today, there are over 60 countries and territories in North America, South America and Oceania and Pacific Islands that are affected. There is no vaccine or specific medicine for this mosquito-spread virus. And while the symptoms are usually mild, the risks for the next generation could be devastating.
The history of Zika begins in 1947. In a Uganda forest, scientists discovered a new virus in a rhesus monkey. The scientists studied the virus and named it after the Zika forest. Five years later the first human cases of Zika were reported in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Over the next few decades, the Zika virus spread, reaching West African countries and Asian countries. In 2007 the first large-scale outbreak of Zika occurred in Micronesia, infecting over 70 percent of the Pacific island of Yap’s population. However, since then the Zika problem has grown into a large health crisis.
Zika Symptoms and Causes
The most common symptoms of Zika include fevers, rashes, muscle pain, and headaches. In rare cases, a Zika infection can lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), which causes weakness in limbs and even paralysis. But one of the most dangerous health risks of Zika is birth defects.
The Zika virus is passed to a pregnant woman it can infect her fetus. And the virus can also pass through sex. The birth defects most associated with Zika are central nervous system (CNS) malformations, such as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than average. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues and may experience seizures and hyperactivity.
Zika News Today
As of last week, the World Health Organization reports that there are over 1,800 cases of microcephaly or CNS malformations. Most of the cases, over 1,000, have been reported in Brazil, but 27 cases have been reported in the United States and the U.S. territories. According to the CDC, the areas in the continental United States that are most susceptible to a Zika outbreak is Texas and Florida, but everyone should be on Zika and mosquito alert.
You can reduce your exposure to the Zika virus by protecting yourself from mosquitoes. Wearing insect repellent when you’re outdoors and planning a mosquito-free landscape is especially important. For more tips consider this Mindful article. And if you suspect that you have been infected with the Zika virus, be sure to contact your doctor and get tested.