UPDATE: This virus is finally getting the attention it merits. We must be mindful that it is not about the mosquitos coming to the US or other countries, it is the mosquitos here biting infected people and transmitting the virus to others. As of yesterday 20 people have tested positive for a virus that 60% of people show no symptoms for. Read below for the 5 things that are important to know about the virus.
(CNN)A relatively new mosquito-borne virus is prompting worldwide concern because of an alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder and the rapid spread of the virus across the globe.
The Zika virus, transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, has now spread to at least 25 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women against travel to those areas; health officials in several of those countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.
“That’s a pandemic in progress,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. “It isn’t as if it’s turning around and dying out, it’s getting worse and worse as the days go by.”
Here are five important things to know:
1. What is Zika and why is it so serious?
The Zika virus is a flavivirus, part of the same family as yellow fever, West Nile, chikungunya and dengue. But unlike some of those viruses, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat the infection.
Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This causes severe developmental issues and sometimes death.
What is the Zika virus?
What is the Zika virus? 01:55
Since November, Brazil has seen nearly 4,000 cases of microcephaly in babies born to women who were infected with Zika during their pregnancies. To put that in perspective, there were only 146 cases in 2014. So far, 46 babies have died.
Other Latin American countries are now seeing cases in newborns as well, while in the United States one Hawaiian baby was born with microcephaly after his mother returned from Brazil. In Illinois, two pregnant women who traveled to Latin America have tested positive for the virus; health officials are monitoring their pregnancies.
The CDC is also asking OB-GYNs to review fetal ultrasounds and do maternal testing for any pregnant woman who has traveled to one of the 23 countries where Zika is currently active.
A smaller outbreak of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that can lead to life-threatening paralysis, is also linked to Zika in a several countries. Click to READ MORE
I was sleepily watching the World News at 2 am until this segment got my full attention. I sat straight up and turned up the volume to make sure I was hearing what was being said correctly. A mosquito transmitted virus ZIKA was wreaking havoc among pregnant and childbearing woman. YES, you read it correctly… Zika, a tropical disease carried from person to person by mosquitoes, has been linked to birth defects and deaths in newborns in Brazil.
I was stunned and petrified as the number of women traveling the world has risen dramatically over the years. Women of child bearing age are taking girl trips or traveling solo discovering the world before settling down to start a family of their own. To think this virus is prevalent in many travel hot spots for women like Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Puerto Rico to name a few, was down right terrifying.
What’s even more terrifying is that it has reached the United States and one bite from one of these mosquitos could alter a woman’s future family forever. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the Zika-virus, the only thing you can do right now is to not travel to any of the destinations where the virus has been found which includes ALL of the Caribbean Islands.
At this point women that live in Latin America are being urged to not become pregnant for a few years to avoid birth defects.
My first thought was WHY IN THE WORLD IS THIS NOT BREAKING NEWS!!! After digging I found the CDC transcript for their news conference. Although they are being cautious they have confirmed eight cases in the United States from mid May 2015 – Jan. 2016. Click this link for the full transcript CDC ZIKA TRANSCRIPT & TRAVEL ALERT
In my research I came across this article from VOX.com that explains the virus in full detail. Excerpts from the article are below.
“Three years ago, the Zika virus was nowhere to be found in the Western Hemisphere. But in 2015, Brazil suddenly found itself in the throes of an unprecedented Zika outbreak — with more than a million people infected by the mosquito-transmitted disease.
The vast majority had nothing to worry about, at worst getting a rash and flu-like symptoms. But recently, scientists have realized that Zika may pose a unique threat to pregnant women.
Those infected with Zika during pregnancy appear to be able to transmit the virus to their fetuses. In some cases, this may lead to microcephaly, a terrible congenital condition that’s associated with a small head and incomplete brain development. Babies born with microcephaly have a limited life expectancy and poor brain function.
Researchers still don’t fully understand the link — or the precise risk involved — but evidence is mounting that there’s some sort of relationship between the virus and birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning pregnant women, and women who are thinking of becoming pregnant, to stay out of countries in South America and the Caribbean where the virus is circulating. Zika has also reached Puerto Rico and could well spread to the US mainland this spring or summer.”