Within the past year, the world has been on high alert for Zika virus. The mosquito-spread virus was first identified almost 70 years ago in Uganda. However, widespread outbreaks did not occur outside of Africa until 2007. We want to make sure that you are aware of the up-to-date information about the Zika virus. Here are 5 things you should know based off of research from the CDC and WHO:
- Zika can spread. If you are traveling to areas with Zika take precautions. Health officials have stated that people should use insect repellents, cover up with long-sleeves, and keep windows and doors closed. The CDC reported that the virus can spread through sexual contact, even if the person did not exhibit symptoms.
- Only 1 in 5 people exhibit symptoms. The symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the whites of the eye. While there is no treatment available, most people take over the counter medicines for any pain. Zika typically lasts for about a week.
- The spread of Zika in the U.S. is not expected to be as widespread. We do not have as much exposure to mosquitos as the Caribbean, Central and South America. Therefore, mass outbreaks are very unlikely. Despite that, pregnant women and their partners should not travel to areas where Zika has been confirmed.
- Zika causes microcephaly. If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, her baby will have microcephaly. Microcephaly stunts a baby’s head growth, which could cause fatal brain damage and result in miscarriage or stillbirth.
- Trial for Zika vaccine will start in September. The National Institutes of Health reported that depending on the results of the trial, larger ones could begin in 2017. The hope is to release a vaccine for the general public by the beginning of 2018.
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