The Zika virus outbreak is causing many people to worry about possible infection. The spread of the disease, which can cause birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes, is starting to affect North America. Here’s all the information you need to know right now.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. But it is not through your regular summertime mosquito, you become infected after being bit by a Aedes mosquitoe.
Aedes mosquitoes can be found anyway but Antarctica. Unlike other mosquitoes, they are only active during the daytime.
You can also become infected via a blood transfusion or through sex, although the latter is extremely rare.
Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye. The symptoms can last a few days or a week, and severe cases are uncommon — many people have no symptoms at all. For women in Brazil who were possibly infected with the virus during pregnancy, cases of microcephaly have been reported frequently.
Microcephaly is condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. Due to that, a baby’s brain may stop growing or become undeveloped. A person with microcephaly can have many other defects, or none at all.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease, however, the CDC warns people to avoid travel to regions and certain countries that have been affected. Currently, cases of the Zika virus have been found in these countries:
- Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, US territory
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- Saint Martin
- U.S. Virgin Islands
The disease has reached the United States, all through travel. There have been nine cases detected in Florida, eight in Texas, and four or less in 10 other states.
Currently, there is not much known about the disease and how much it affects pregnant woman. Microcephaly can occur with or without the virus being present, however, the virus will not cause infections in a baby that is conceived after the virus is cleared from the blood.
Women who are pregnant are advised to wear non-toxic bug repellent, as well as long clothing during the summer months. They are also advised not to travel to any infected location.
Although the virus is not deadly, all people are advised to do the same, as well as stay in air conditioned rooms with screens on all doors and windows if necessary. Sleep with a mosquito net if you are overseas or outside.
You can learn more about the Zika virus by going over to the CDC.
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