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ZIKA VIRUS HITS AMERICA - WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT?
The Zika virus has now come to America. Who knows how virulent it will be or how big it will spread. One thing is sure, if I was pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, I'd be extra careful. It seems to cause birth defects for the children born to mothers with the virus and children can contract the virus from their mothers at birth.
The Zika virus has been around since 1947, but all of a sudden has had a large increase in people getting it. 12 US states have reported cases as well at a US Territory (Puerto Rico). US states with Zika Virus.
What are the signs/symptoms? The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days. Some people may not even show symptoms, therefore, spread the disease not knowing they actually have it.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ON ZIKA VIRUS - Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples. Diagnosis by serology can be difficult as the virus can cross-react with other flaviviruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.
The WHO recommends staying away from the mosquito prone areas, using pesticides on them, using mosquito repellent (and newly - to use protection if having intercourse with someone who may have the disease).
CDC.GOV ON THE ZIKA VIRUS - There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika. Avoid mosquito prone areas. Use mosquito repellent - if pregnant, use EPA approved mosquito repellent. (Newly known - no intercourse with known persons with the active virus. Use protection if you do.)
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT ZIKA VIRUS: Fact sheets and posters from CDC.
Things that are pretty certain about the Zika Virus. (New developements happen daily):
Likely to cause microcephaly, in which a baby is born to a mother with the Zika virus having a brain that stopped growing at one point causing the head and brain to be about 1/2 the normal size. The child will have developemental problems the rest of their life. It's still being studied but looks like the cause is the Zika virus from their mothers.
Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes and stories on CNN on 2/3/2016 link passing of the Zika virus to having sex with someone who has the disease.
People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
Updated travel notices. (Which countries NOT to go to that currently have the Zika virus carrying mosquitoes): DOCUMENTED COUNTRY ZIKA VIRUS NOTICES.
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