Zika virus is believed to have killed four people and infected millions of people in the past eight weeks. Scientists would like to examine Brazil’s four deaths caused by the infection to verify if the virus did, in fact, kill them. To date, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has told the public the virus doesn’t kill you, but will cause you to get very ill and cause birth defects if the women is expecting.
CNN reported on Friday that two U.S. women have contracted the virus while traveling abroad, and they suffered miscarriages. The CDC verified that a miscarriage was a known risk of the Zika virus, as well as stillbirth for women in the later stages of pregnancy. They hadn’t revealed the danger to the public because at the time no one had reported suffering a miscarriage due to the infection.
Up until now, the CDC had warned expectant mothers that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a condition that prevents the fetus’ brain from developing normally. The infant is born with a massively underdeveloped brain, the prognosis of which varies and can be a fatal condition — if severe. A few weeks ago, the CDC had warned expectant mothers to avoid traveling to risky areas where the Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes have been seen. Later they updated the warning to include those women who want to become pregnant.
Apparently, researchers have found that the virus can stay in your system for several months. For men, on average, the Zika virus will remain in their semen for about two months. If you are trying to conceive a child, it would be hazardous to travel to an exposed area, only to have to worry about the health of your (possible) baby. As a precaution, the CDC warned all expectant mothers and those who may become pregnant to stay out of risky areas.
ABC News reported that researchers suspect that Zika could cause eye abnormalities in newborns. According to the report, they will not know for sure, until a child born to an infected mother is born to confirm. The research suggested that due to the nature of the brain abnormalities it causes, it seems highly likely it could cause eye abnormalities as well.
The Zika virus is in the same family of illnesses as yellow fever and West Nile and causes Guillain–Barré syndrome, which causes weakness and can result in partial or complete paralysis. The condition can be life-threatening depending on the severity, and can last up to four weeks.
Brazil declared it a national emergency to get help to get rid of the Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes. CNN reported that Venezuela and Colombia have started to see an increase in suspected Zika virus patients. In Colombia, according to the WHO, they have seen and treated over 12,000 people with the Zika virus. The CDC warned people in risky areas not to drink standing water as it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and could triple their risk of being affected.
The CDC noted that they were working on a DNA-based vaccine that will be similar to the West Nile vaccine. They hope to have it available for those in risky areas by early summer. To date, there is no cure or treatment for the virus. Scientists are actively searching for a common link to something that could cure or make the symptoms less severe.
The WHO (World Health Organization) explained that 15 companies have started working to develop the vaccine, and only two of those have had any success. The WHO spokesperson told the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that it would take a few months before they have a workable vaccine. Until then, they stand by their suggestion to avoid traveling to affected areas.
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[AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco]