|Posted by Margaret Donohue on January 27, 2016 at 9:25 AM|
For most people the Zika virus is a mild case of flu like symptoms if they notice anything at all. For others, like pregnant women it can result in their children having abnormally small heads and brains, known as microcephally. For others it may produce joint pain, or progressive symptoms of paralysis known as guillain barre syndrome. Fever, rash and runny eyes are common.
Zika virus is a viral infection of the blood carried by mosquitos. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the virus, lives in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. The mosquito strain is in the United States but their aren't enough infected people living in the United States to serve as hosts. It originated in Uganda Africa and was found in a rhesus monkey in 1947. In 2013 it caused significant human outbreaks in French Polynesia. It is likely also able to be sexually transmitted. I say likely because blood borne viruses are usually also sexually transmitted and the virus has been isolated in semen. The disease is most prevalent in South America, but it's also present in other countries. If it's not already in the United States, it will likely be here soon. There is no cure. Prevention measures are to avoid pregnancy in countries where the infection is in epidemic proportions and to avoid mosquitos. Treatment with antiviral medications have limited impact. Several pharmaceutical companies are working on a treatment or preventative medication.
In the meantime, if you can avoid traveling to tropical areas, especially if you are pregnant, then do that. Preventative treatment will likely be available within the next 2 to 5 years.
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