The Zika Virus – Here’s what You Need to Know
With the Zika Virus quickly becoming a household name due to the quick spread of the virus in the Americas, what are some of the most important things about the virus that you need to be aware of?
What is the Zika Virus and how does is spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Zika Virus is a disease that is spread primarily through contact with mosquito bites, and its most common symptoms include rash, joint pain, fever, and red eyes. Usually, the illness is relatively mild, and hospitalization as a result of a severe case of the disease is rare.
The CDC further states that in May of 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released an alert about the first confirmed case of the virus being present in Brazil, which led to an outbreak. The effects of the virus on pregnant women may cause them to give birth to babies with birth defects such as microcephaly.
Zika Virus in the United States
Recently, the virus has continued to spread throughout the Western Hemisphere, and on Wednesday February 3, officials in Florida declared a public health emergency in four counties with confirmed Zika Virus cases, according to the Washington Post.
Florida Governor Rick Scott further said that it is likely that the individuals with the Zika Virus contracted the virus in one of the countries in the region where the virus is spreading.
As of right now, the CDC has confirmed that the cases in the United States are from people who traveled to the region, and not because infected mosquitos have made their way into the United States.
Zika Transmission via Sexual Contact
So far, there has been one confirmed case of someone contracting the virus in the continental United States, and it involved someone having sex with another person who had recently traveled to Venezuela and came back to the United States infected with the virus.
According to CNN, the Centers for Disease Control is urging those who may have sexual contact with someone who recently traveled to an infected country to use proper protection.
According to the New York Times:
- The CDC recommends that pregnant women, or women who intend to become pregnant, avoid the countries on the CDC’s travel advisory completely for the time being.
- Should someone happen to be infected with the virus or experience any of the symptoms, there is no cure – they should rest.
- Usually only one in five of those exposed to the virus will experience symptoms.
- Someone infected with the virus usually recovers within a week or two. Once the symptoms subside, the person is now immune to the virus.