Why Is The World Freaking Out About Zika Virus? - Ethiopian news
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Why Is The World Freaking Out About Zika Virus?

By on Jan 27, 2016

A mosquito-borne illness called Zika virus is quickly making waves around the world after thousands of infected women gave birth to babies with severe brain and head underdevelopment in Brazil. As the disease spreads at a rapid pace, here’s what you should know.

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Zika Can Cause Severe Brain Damage And Paralysis If Transmitted To A Fetus

Fear began after Zika was connected to brain development in babies:

Those infected with Zika during pregnancy appear to be able to transmit the virus to their fetuses. In some cases, this may lead to microcephaly, a terrible congenital condition that’s associated with a small head and incomplete brain development. Babies born with microcephaly have a limited life expectancy and poor brain function.

[Vox]

Last week it was announced that Zika may also cause the paralytic condition Guillain-Barré Syndrome:

With GBS, a person typically will lose strength in the legs at first; for some, the problem progresses in an “ascending” manner, meaning that the arms and the muscles of breathing may be next affected. Thankfully, for most patients, this severe form does not develop. If a patient—even one with paralyzed breathing muscles — can be stabilized, including support with a ventilator if needed, most will survive.

[The Daily Beast]

New Evidence Suggests That It Could Also Be Sexually Transmitted

Zika virus has already been linked to brain damage in babies and paralysis in adults. Now scientists are facing another ominous possibility: that on rare occasions, the virus might be transmitted through sex. The evidence is very slim; only a couple of cases have been described in medical literature. But a few experts feel the prospect is disturbing enough that federal health officials should inform all travelers, not just pregnant women, of the potential danger.

[The New York Times]

Concern Began After Thousands Of Cases Were Reported In Brazil

Brazil has reported 3,893 suspected cases of microcephaly, the WHO said last Friday, over 30 times more than in any year since 2010 and equivalent to 1-2 percent of all newborns in the state of Pernambuco, one of the worst-hit areas.

[Reuters]

Now, Cases Are Being Tracked In The US

Already, one pregnant woman who likely contracted the virus in Brazil in May 2015 later gave birth to a baby in Hawaii suffering from microcephaly. On January 25 the World Health Organization said that Zika would spread throughout the Americas because the mosquitoes that transmit it are everywhere except in Chile and Canada.

[Scientific American]

And The CDC Has Warned Pregnant Travelers To Avoid Highly Affected Countries

Pregnant women should not travel to Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa because of Zika virus, the CDC said Friday … This comes on the heels of last week’s travel alert from the CDC recommending pregnant women postpone travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

[CNN]

The Economist has produced a nice map illustrating transmission risk based on climate and travel patterns:

 

Highly Affected Countries Have Begun To Warn Women To Delay Pregnancy For Years

In a stunning development in El Salvador, health officials have advised all women of reproductive age to delay pregnancy until 2018 due to concerns about possible birth defects linked to the virus. Earlier this month, the El Salvador Health Department disclosed they had found 492 Zika cases.

[ABC News]

Some Scientists Have Pointed The Finger At Climate Change For The Sudden Crisis

In recent years, researchers have increasingly devoted themselves to the investigation of how future climate scenarios might affect these mosquito populations. And many have concluded that a warmer world is likely to be a boon to the bugs, allowing them reproduce faster, emerge earlier in the season, survive longer and even spread northward. The appearance of Zika in the Americas, where it was likely carried by travelers from the eastern hemisphere, thus adds one more disease to the list of potential public health concerns under a warming scenario.

[The Washington Post]

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