By now, you have probably heard about the Zika virus. If you are not aware of the Zika virus and its causes and symptoms, here are some key facts.
- Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
- The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
Recent Developments of the Zika Virus – What is Currently Known
According to the Zika situation report from the World Health Organization, dated April 7, 2016, the Zika virus transmission is confirmed in 62 countries and territories from January 1, 2007 to April 6, 2016. Previously thought of as only a mosquito-borne illness, sexual transmission of Zika is now confirmed in six countries: Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand and the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of April 6, 2016, there are a total of 700 confirmed Zika cases in the U.S. and U.S. territories:
- Number of travel-related Zika cases in U.S. states: 346
- Number of overall Zika cases in U.S. territories: 354
- Total number of Zika cases in U.S. states and U.S. territories: 700
- Number of total Zika cases in U.S. states (346) that are pregnant women: 32
- Number of total Zika cases in U.S. territories (354) that are pregnant women: 37
- U.S. state with the most confirmed cases of Zika: Florida (78)
- U.S. territory with the most confirmed cases of Zika: Puerto Rico (325)
- Number of total Zika cases in U.S. states and U.S. territories (700) that are pregnant women: 69
All Zika cases in U.S. states are confirmed to be travel-related, while in U.S. territories, there have been 351 reported cases that are considered to be locally acquired. Puerto Rico has the most cases of any U.S. state or territory — 325.
Zika Virus and its Connection to Other Disorders
Zika has long been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected. While the connection has yet to be confirmed, the WHO announced recently that there is mounting evidence of not only a link between Zika and microcephaly, but also between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and other neurological disorders.
Even more recently, Brazilian scientists discovered a new brain disorder associated with Zika to add to the list of serious health problems linked with the virus. These latest findings linked Zika to an autoimmune syndrome called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which attacks the brain and spinal cord.
Prediction of the Spread of Zika Virus in the United States
U.S. health officials said that the risk of a Zika outbreak in U.S. cities is greatly increased during the summer months. The aedes aegypti mosquito, which is believed to be largely responsible for the spread of the virus, will appear more regularly across the southern and eastern U.S. and some U.S. territories as the weather warms.
Mosquito bite prevention is more crucial than ever!
United States Officials Say They “May Have Underestimated the Threat”
U.S. health officials said this week that Zika virus is “scarier” than first thought and that the impact of the virus on the U.S. could be greater than predicted. Officials fear that Puerto Rico is particularly at risk, and that hundreds of thousands of infections could appear there.
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Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. And with the threat of Zika virus, mosquito prevention is more important than ever. Check out the following articles for preventative measures you can take this season to help fight the battle against the mosquito!