A Short Overview of the Zika Virus

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Zika is a virus transmitted through mosquito bites. The Zika virus was first detected in Brazil in May of 2015, the virus has traveled to Africa and parts of Asia. Zika has is new to the western hemisphere, spreading through out Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then 1.5 million people have been reported infected in Brazil. In the U.S. there has been many travel related cases 625 cases in the New York, 510 in Florida, and 152 cases in California.

Zika doesn’t just have effects now but also has health effects in the long-term. The virus causes a disease in unborn and born infants called Microcephaly. The disease causes children to be born with abnormally small heads and often deformed brains. The U.S is advising pregnant women to not travel anywhere the virus is prevalent. In El Salvador women were asked to wait until 2018 to become pregnant.

Sexual transmission has also been reported in 10 countries, including the United States, France, Germany, Italy and New Zealand. In all known cases, transmission has been from a man to a woman or to another man, not from a woman to anyone else. In at least one case, a man who never had Zika symptoms transmitted it sexually. Health authorities recommend that men who have had no symptoms should wait eight weeks.

Zika is almost never fatal, but it’s been known to kill people. The virus has killed a man in Puerto Rico. The man, in his 70s, is the first reported U.S. death from the virus, which is spreading faster across America. The patient who died in Puerto Rico had a very rare complication called immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura. Another patient, who died in Utah, had a Zika virus infection that contributed to her death.

There is no vaccine against the Zika virus. Efforts to make one have just begun, and creating and testing a vaccine normally takes years and costs hundreds of millions of dollars. The C.D.C. does not recommend a particular antiviral medication for people infected with the Zika virus. The symptoms are mild – when they appear at all – and usually require only rest, nourishment and other supportive care. Travelers to these countries are advised to avoid or minimize mosquito bites by staying in screened or air-conditioned rooms or sleeping under mosquito nets; wearing insect repellent at all times; and wearing long pants, long sleeves, shoes and hats.


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