2016 March, Health, Zika Epidemic, Addesso

Zika Epidemic
by Alyssa Addesso, 2016 (posted 3-15-16)

The second case of the Zika Virus, which first originated in Uganda in 1947, was recently found in the United States. In the past few months, this virus has become an epidemic for many Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as causing outbreaks in other countries. As a result, the World Health Organization has labeled the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.

The first of two cases appeared in the Dallas County area of Texas where the resident wasinfected by someone who had recently come back infected from Venezuela.

The second case appeared in the Los Angeles area of California when a girl came back from El Salvador, testing positive for the virus. She, according to health officials, has recovered and did not transmit the virus to anyone.

One of the largest ways the Zika virus is spread is through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on someone who has the virus and then spreads it by biting other people. This virus can also be spread from mother to child during birth and/or pregnancy, sexual contact, and blood transfusions.

Common symptoms, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, include rashes, fever, joint pain, and red eyes. These symptoms normally disappear within a week after receiving a bite, and most people do not realize they are infected.

A larger issue, however, is symptoms when an infected mother passes on the virus to her child. These babies have been diagnosed with microcephaly-a birth defect that causes a smaller head than expected. As of now, there are no vaccines against the virus, but people can minimize the risk by not travelling to certain areas where the virus is prevalent, or by wearing long clothing, and using insect repellant if going to known infected areas.

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