The bite you should be more afraid of

Everything to know about the Zika virus and why there should be worry

March 17, 2016

After last years scare of the Ebola virus, the United States is now under high alert for a virus that is moving closer and closer to home. Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV). According to the Center of Disease Control website, the virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika forest in Uganda. The disease caused by Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The virus was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Feb. 1, 2016.


The Zika virus outbreaks usually occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.​ Anyone who has not already been infected with Zika virus, but lives in or travels to an area where the Zika virus is found can get the virus from mosquito bites. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protectted from future infections.​ The reason that the US is starting to worry is because this disease can easily become transmitted from one traveler coming back to America to another after being infected in a tropical area. In US territories, the Zika virus has been reported in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and America Samoa. ​No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in United States , but there have been travel-associated cases. ​


source: Pregnant women are urged not to travel to these locations
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Pregnant women are urged not to travel to these locations

As stated before, the Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Once someone has been infected, there are multiple ways on how it can be spread. If a mother becomes infected during pregnancy or is infected when the baby is conceived, the mother can actually give the disease to the child​. The Zika virus can also be spread through sexual contact​ and blood transfusions​. There have not been any reports of pets or other types of animals becoming sick with Zika virus.​ People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

The reason that Zika is a very threatening disease is because it can affect pregnant women throughh increased mortality rate in unborn fetuses and can cause babies to develop microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected, when compared to babies of the same sex and age. ​Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.​ The problems that develop from microcephaly are seizures​, developmental delay, intellectual disability​, problems with movement and balance​, feeding problems, hearing loss​ and vision problems​. Microcephaly is a lifelong condition with no known cure or standard treatment. ​Babies with mild-microcephaly often do not experience any other problems besides small head size.​ In regards to severe-microcephaly, babies will need care and treatment focused on managing their many resulting health problems.

Prevention Graphic of mosquito bite prevention
Press Released Photo
Graphic of mosquito bite prevention

Ways to prevent contracting Zika virus include avoiding getting bit by a mosquitoes during the first week of infection. While visiting tropical places that have mosquitoes, ​wear long sleeves and pants, put mosquito net over bed and keep windows closed with air conditioning on. ​A basic solution to avoid mosquito bites is just by simply wearing insect repellent. As for pregnant women, they should avoid topical places with mosquitoes at all costs.



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