What is the Zika Virus

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If you keep up with current events, you may have heard of the Zika virus. Following the Ebola outbreak in 2014, another exotic sounding illness may seem scary, giving you all the more reason to educate yourself on what it is.

Especially if you live in a humid or sub-tropic area or have traveled to a similar climate recently, you may be at risk for infection and the consequences that can come from it.

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is a virus that is transmitted through infected Aedes mosquitoes. It was first discovered in 1947, and named after the Zika forest in Africa. The virus can be characterized by headaches, joint pains, red or irritated eyes, and a rash. While there is no known incubation rate, it is predicted to be between 2-7 days before showing symptoms, and unlike other serious viruses and diseases that we sometimes hear about on social media, the Zika virus is relatively mild; almost no one dies from it. Depending on your symptoms, one may not even have to go to the hospital. The best way to determine if you have the Zika virus is by doing a checklist: Do you have the above listed symptoms? Have you recently traveled to a country or place that has had Zika outbreaks? Do you live in a humid or sub-tropic climate? If your answer is yes to any two of these, consider visiting a doctor for a check-up.

How does Zika affect us?

So if the Zika virus doesn’t have a high death toll and the symptoms aren’t severe, why the international panic? Recently, connections have been made between infected people who develop Guillain-Barre syndrome (A syndrome that causes one’s body to attack its own nerves, eventually causing paralysis) and those infected with the Zika virus as well as infected pregnant women who give birth to children with microcephaly (A condition that causes a baby’s brain to stop developing and growing in the womb, therefore causing the baby’s head to be smaller in diameter and an underdeveloped brain).  Since there have been 4,700 cases reported in Brazil since October 2015, the World Health Organization announced this to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (or PHEIC) because the risk of the virus spreading to other countries is still present. Considering the devastating problems that this virus could cause, it is best if the virus remains contained.

How to avoid Zika

While there is no known vaccine or cure for Zika, you can still prevent it by visiting the doctor frequently, wearing bug spray, watching for possible symptoms, and practicing safe sex. Use common sense when traveling to another country, especially one that has recently had a Zika outbreak. And although this virus may sound scary, don’t let this disease scare you from trying for a baby, or from traveling. While it is important to be careful, this virus and viruses like it will always exist; don’t let them prevent you from living your life.

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Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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