An Explosive Pandemic in Progress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The ZIKA Virus, which was first identified in a rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda, Africa, in 1947… has now made its way through Africa, Asia, The Caribbean, Central and South America on its rapid encroachment upon the Unites States.
This is the reasoning urging U.S. health officials to impose a travel warning for pregnant women and women of child bearing age intending to travel to the Caribbean, South and Central America. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also issued a comprehensive update on the dengue-like illness this past December.
Experts say ZIKA is a disease spreading through mosquitos and can cause birth defects in the fetus carried by pregnant women, which indicates the disease crosses the placental barrier, resulting in the possibility of fetal infection.
The infection that is caused by the transmission of ZIKA in the womb is called Microcephaly, an abnormally small head and brain in infants. There is no known treatment for Microcephaly, which can also sometimes be fatal and can also cause miscarriages. Children diagnosed with the disease, are at risk of severe untreatable handicaps, such as: facial distortions, developmental disabilities, short stature, difficulties with balance and coordination, speech problems and seizures.
ZIKA is also linked to Guillan- Barre Syndrome, a rare and sometimes dangerous reaction of the immune system, that can occur in certain viral infections… and Rubella, which are the German Measles, a form of the measles that can also lead to Microcephaly, heart disease, temporary paralysis and learning disabilities. Most dangerous during the 1st trimester of pregnancy or women who may become pregnant.
Symptoms of ZIKA in adults and children begin to show within a 3 – 12 day window after the initial bite by an infected mosquito and side effects are said to last between two to seven days. Symptoms include: short lived rash, fever, joint pain, headache, muscle ache, pink eye (eye redness), lack of energy and weakness. Now, unlike other mosquito-borne diseases, the ZIKA Virus does not usually cause fatal complications in adults and children and luckily is not a virus like the flu that can spread from person to person contact. You see, ONLY mosquitoes and pregnant women, who can be carriers spread ZIKA.
*Disclaimer: An unconfirmed report has suggested, ZIKA can be transmitted during sexual intercourse.
For years it was not considered a high-risk virus like malaria, because it was regionally limited to a distinct equatorial part of Africa and Asia. But, over the past year 14 Countries in the Western Hemisphere have detected the ZIKA virus, which is said to have reached in Brazil in May 2015, and is now considered to be causing birth defects in epidemic proportions. At the end of 2015 Brazil’s Ministry of Health reported an unusually high number of microcephaly cases, now numbering into 3,500 cases and at least 38 Brazilian babies have died. ZIKA affected Puerto Rico in December, so the Departments of US Health expect it is only a matter of time before cases begin to appear on the homeland.
A certain number of Brazilian babies who died tested positive for the ZIKA virus in the brain and ZIKA was also present in the placenta and amniotic fluid of certain tested miscarriages in Brazil.
The Aedes species of mosquitoes, which are said to be one of the 2 species of mosquitos that spread ZIKA are found throughout the world, including the Southern United Sates, which makes it more likely that outbreaks will continue to spread.
According to the CDC, there are no approved treatments or vaccines for ZIKA virus, but there is a timely and costly test called PCR to test patients for ZIKA.
If you happen to live in a Gulf Coast bordering community such as in Texas, Florida or Louisiana where humid tropical tempered climates are comfortable for mosquitos to breed, make an effort to reduce the risk of mosquitos by removing trash that collects standing water.
If you happen to be traveling, you can protect your family from this disease, by taking all measures to prevent mosquito bites, (i.e. wearing long sleeves, pants, using mosquito repellant and avoiding areas with long standing water).