The Zika Virus
A new virus has joined the ranks of dengue and yellow fever as the newest threat to humanity. The Zika virus, carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, has broken out in a major way in Brazil, and now American tourists are carrying it back to the U.S. The virus exploded in the last year, and scientists think it has already infected a couple million people. While so far only people who have traveled to South America have reported catching the disease, it is only a matter of time before the disease transfers to local mosquitos and becomes a real problem for the country. The biggest concern in relation to the virus is its possible link to Microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with shrunken brains, leading to severe brain damage and even death. Officials have warned people against traveling to South America, especially pregnant or possibly pregnant women. The virus causes symptoms similar to those of dengue fever, including flu-like aches, joint pain, and rashes. However, many people show no symptoms, making the virus extremely difficult to diagnose. Because it is so difficult to diagnose, expectant mothers can catch it and not know of it until late in the pregnancy if at all. There is no vaccine for the virus yet, and it looks as if one might not be available to the public for at least another ten years. You can protect yourself by emptying any standing water in your home and wearing insect repellent.
Have you heard of the Zika virus? Do you know anyone who has caught it?