It seems as though we are constantly hearing of new bugs and new diseases. Not that long ago, West Nile was making headlines. Recently we heard about Chagas Disease and the kissing bug. The most recent scare has been with the Zika Virus. These diseases are not new. They have been around for a long time. They are diseases that may have previously been brought under control, but have recently resurfaced and are beginning to spread again. A lot of diseases and viruses, including the Zika Virus, are often spread by flying insects, such as mosquitoes.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne virus. The Zika Virus was first discovered in the mid 1940’s. It recently (in 2015) re-emerged in Brazil.
How is it spread?
As I mentioned above, the Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne virus. Just today, I heard of a confirmed case in which the virus was sexually transmitted from one person to another.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include a rash, joint pain, fever, etc. The Zika Virus has been linked to Microcephaly, which is an abnormally small head in new born babies. For this reason, the Zika Virus is especially dangerous for pregnant women. Only about 1 in 5 people who contract the Zika Virus become sick.
How bad has it gotten?
It has gotten bad enough that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a worldwide health emergency. The virus has recently been discovered in 23 different countries, as well as a handful of states in the U.S.. Since October of 2015, there have been over 4,000 babies born with Microcephaly in Brazil. (Info obtained from sharecare.com) In heavily affected areas, such as Brazil, the government has gone as far as to encourage women to not get pregnant for the next couple of years.
Is there a vaccine?
From everything that I have heard and read, there are not currently any vaccines to treat the Zika Virus.
Is there anything I can do?
There have been warnings issued to individuals planning on visiting the countries most affected by the Zika Virus. In addition to staying out of these areas, we recommend that home-owners consider the services of a pest control company for performing mosquito reduction treatments on their property. Some areas / municipalities offer mosquito treatments, but these areas are few and far between. Performing mosquito reduction treatments will reduce the amount of mosquitoes, thus reducing the amounts of mosquitoes infected with Zika Virus, as well as other mosquito-borne diseases.