The ZIKA VIRUS Epidemic
As if Ebola, SARS and Swine Flu were not enough to worry about, now we have to worry about the ZIKA Virus too? Yes. We do. ZIKA is a well-known RNA virus that has been around for yours and is known to be transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. In other words, if the virus has infected someone and it is in his or her blood, if the mosquito bites him or her it can transmit it to the next person it bites. A bit scary because if you live in an area where there is this particular type of mosquito, ZIKA can spread very rapidly.
In the past only 20% of the people infected with ZIKA got any symptoms at all. They would usually just get flu-type symptoms. In the worse case scenario they would get what is called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a paralysis that usually starts in the feet and moves up the body). But something appears to have changed. In Brazil there are usually 160 cases a year of microcephaly (children born with small brains and heads). Something that is usually fatal. Alarmingly, there have been close to 4000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil over the past six months. Many of these children or their mother have tested positive for the ZIKA virus. More cases are being found in Venezuela and other Southern and Central American countries. The fear is that as the seasons change and North America gets warmer, that ZIKA and its mosquito will find its way north to regions it is not usually found.
ZIKA TRANSMITTED SEXUALLY
To make matters a bit worse, today there was a case in Texas of a man who travelled to South America, contracted ZIKA and transmitted it to his female partner. She had not been to South America or any other area that has ZIKA.
There currently is no treatment or vaccine for ZIKA. That is what it is important that you either go to www.CDC.gov and find out more about ZIKA or ask your physician what they recommend if you plan to travel to areas where ZIKA is currently endemic. Both the World Health Organization and the C.D.C. are suggesting that pregnant women and women of child bearing age consider not travelling to these areas. Now, with the Texas case, it might be wise to abstain from sexual contact with someone who has also travelled to those areas.
If you have travelled to Central or South America, it is best to consult your physician, especially if you have symptoms of the flu: fever, body aches, and sore throat. In the mean time, stay informed and vigilant.