Zika Virus


Alice Torres, Editor

During the last few weeks, there have been a lot of rumors going around concerning the Zika virus. The disease first started in Brazil and it has already spread to other regions in Central and South America. 

The major symptoms of the virus mostly affect pregnant women by causing miscarriages and birth defects. The major confirmed birth defect, referred to as microcephaly, results in a much smaller head and brain for the infant. This creates many difficulties and obstacles later in life for these children, so the risk of zika has long-lasting implications beyond momentary sickness. There are also studies currently underway to see if the Zika virus has any connection to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a viral infection that results in gradual paralysis.

According to ABC News, the disease has been spreading through the Aedes aegypti, a specific kind of mosquito, that is also associated with carrying Dengue Fever and Chikungunya.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that, of those infected with the virus, only 1 out of 5 show symptoms, which include rashes, conjunctivitis, fever, joint and muscle pain, and headaches, all of which last only one week.

To make matters worse, the disease has now spread to the United States. Recently, Florida was reported to have 16 different cases, with certain counties now under a public health emergency. The CDC recently changed their Emergency Operations Center to status of Level 1, meaning their employers will work around the clock to make sure other cases of the virus don’t further invade the U.S.. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, a country with 492 cases, women have been advised to wait 2 years before getting pregnant. Colombia has also warned women to avoid pregnancy until they learn more about the virus. However, this is not a simple request in countries where birth control is hard to come by.

Fortunately, the Zika virus was discovered right away, unlike other outbreaks, such as the Ebola outbreak in recent years. Hopefully, researchers will find a successful vaccine to combat this severe virus and save the lives of future children. 

Image courtesy of BBC