The Zika virus might soon be coming to the United States. The World Health Organization is warning that the disease spread by the Aedes mosquitoes has now presented in Mexico. Those stricken with the virus experience Zika fever, headaches, and a rash.
The Zika virus is now reportedly causing microcephaly in babies born to mothers who have been infected with the mosquito-borne disease. The condition causes infants to be born with an abnormally small head and is often accompanied by “incomplete” brain development. Microcephaly, which is typically a rare neurological condition, has been known to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There is no known cure, or even a viable treatment, for microcephaly babies. Early detection and “supportive therapies” are reportedly able to help increase the quality of life for the infants to enhance developmental capabilities as the child ages. Doctors in Brazil feel the microcephaly babies are linked to central nervous system issues stemming from pregnant women who have been afflicted with the virus that are impeding the proper development of the fetus.
— Maria Jackson (@MariaJackson471) December 17, 2015
The first report of a Zika Virus case in the Americas occurred in 2014, according to a NewsOxy report. The patient was reportedly from Chile, and was also the first known case in Latin America. Since the initial case, patients have been reported in El Salvador, Brazil, Guatemala, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay, and Columbia.
Vanderbilt University Department of Preventative Medicine Chairman Dr. William Schaffner states that the Zika Virus is one of the “emerging infectious diseases” of our time. Dr. Schaffner, and other physicians and researchers tracking the disease and treating patients, said that transient nature of the mosquito virus is troubling.
“People are now looking at this possibility pretty seriously,” Dr. Schaffner said.
The virus is said to resemble the Chikungunya Virus and Dengue Fever in the manner in which it spreads. Zika Virus patients are also reportedly more likely to contract conjunctivitis that sufferers of the other two conditions.
— Reuters India (@ReutersIndia) December 15, 2015
The spread of the Zika Virus has roundly been attributed to travel and tourism carriers. The virus was originally thought to be affecting only the Cooke Islands and Micronesia. When visitors from the United States and around the world travel to the areas where Zika is widespread, they can bring the infection back to America.
“Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said, according to a NewsMax reports. “Zika virus is not currently found in the United States. However, cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers.”
Whether or not mosquitoes have the capability to spread the virus all the way to the U.S. on their own remains unknown. Some doctors studying the spread of the virus maintain that the insects may have the ability to spread the virus into Florida and other deep South regions.
The high quality of living in the United States, such as typically good housing conditions, the frequent use of air conditioning, or doors with screens, are predicted to help prevent the spread of the Zika Virus and the creation of a full-scale outbreak. Any barrier between human beings and mosquitoes can help prevent the increase of bites and the number of patients who develop symptoms.
In Brazil, Zika Virus cases have reportedly increased by 20 percent between 2014 and 2015. As of the end of last month, a grand total of 1,248 cases, or 99.7 of every 100,000 live births, have been reported in the country.
[Image via AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File]