The media has recently been overwhelmed with news on the Zika virus outbreak.
As the virus grows more threatening and more prominent in the news, it is important to first understand what Zika is, why it has become so significant and what the future is predicted to hold for the virus and its influence.
Not only has the Zika Virus not yet infiltrated our New England borders, but it is also as nasty and life threatening to your average college student as the seasonal flu.
Transmitted solely by mosquitos, Zika is an infection that remains in your blood stream for up to a week, resulting in symptoms that include fever, rash, red eyes, muscle and joint pain and headaches.
Drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest is the only remedy.
Severe and deadly cases of Zika are extremely rare, especially in the United States.
One might ask, why is Zika getting so much media coverage lately?
The main concept that has confounded the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that Zika has recently been connected to babies born with a birth defect called Microcephaly.
The 2015 outbreak of Zika in Brazil correlated with an increasing number of babies born with Microcephaly, causing scientists to investigate Zika’s potential to directly cause the birth defect.
Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes the head of a child to be born significantly smaller than average, often leading to a smaller and sometimes underdeveloped brain.
Microcephaly is a lifelong condition that is linked with seizures, hearing/sight loss, difficulty swallowing and developmental/intellectual delays and disabilities.
When a woman is infected with the Zika virus, they may or may not show symptoms. As a matter of fact, only one in five people whom are infected actually get sick.
This makes Zika significantly hard to diagnose, and puts pregnant women at risk.
Therefore, if Zika is linked to Microcephaly, then it would put pregnant women at high risk in certain areas. However, scientists have yet to confirm the link between Zika and Microcephaly.
The CDC is taking action against the newest outbreak.
Although there remains to be no vaccine against the virus, a test has been developed to detect Zika in the first week of illness.
The next goal for the CDC is to develop a test that can diagnose Zika before it’s infection period.
Meanwhile, the CDC is setting travel notices for locations with recorded outbreaks, and is putting emphasis on mosquito bite prevention.
On the less optimistic side of the spectrum, a Zika discovery in the US has made the disease potentially more dangerous than initially expected.
A recent case in Texas has been reported as having been sexually transmitted.
This leads to a promising future of research and a myriad of possibilities for the Zika virus and its effects on the world’s populations.