The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Zika virus a public emergency after the virus spread fast in the Latin American region and caused numerous deaths and brain defects among newly born babies. Many U.S. states are now reporting new cases of the Zika virus.
WHO stated that as many as four million people could be infected by the virus by the end of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned people against traveling to 32 countries where the Zika virus is believed to be active. Most of the affected areas are in the Americas.
The CDC’s guidelines also advise pregnant women returning from the regions affected by Zika to get tested for the virus once they notice the symptoms. Men are recommended to use condoms during sex if they have been to those affected countries.
Here are some of the facts about Zika virus everyone should know about.
- How Zika Virus is Transmitted
The Zika virus is carried by Aedes mosquito. It could also be sexually transmitted. Officials in Brazil also claim that it could spread through blood transfusion.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) February 17, 2016
People who have been exposed to the virus should not donate blood for at least a month. Scientists have also found that the Zika virus is active in urine and saliva, but it is still unknown if it could spread through these body fluids.
- Only two countries in the Americas will not be affected
Zika outbreak in the Gulf Coast is possible according to CDC. The only countries that will not be reached by Zika are Canada and Chile.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 27, 2016
- Symptoms usually do not show
Almost 80 percent of potential Zika victims never showed symptoms. One in five people with Zika will show any symptom. Once the virus gets in the body, the infected person usually develops rashes and fever, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis (itchy, red eyes), headache, and pain behind the eyes. The symptoms reportedly last for about two to seven days.
— Asian Eye Institute (@asianeyephil) February 19, 2016
- There is no cure for Zika
As of now, there is no known vaccine that could protect against the Zika virus. Over-the-counter medicines can only help alleviate the symptoms.
— Vocativ (@vocativ) February 16, 2016
- Unborn babies are at risk of developing brain damage
Infants born with Zika have a slightly smaller brain. This condition is called “microcephaly,” which could affect a child’s growth and brain development. Scientists have found strains of the virus in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women carrying babies with microcephaly, in the brain tissue of infants with microcephaly, and in the placenta of mothers who have miscarried infants with the said condition. The most dangerous time for pregnant women is reportedly during the first trimester, when some women are unaware that they are pregnant. It is still unknown how the virus gets into the placenta.
— The Independent (@Independent) February 16, 2016
According to researchers, tracing the virus in pregnant women is rather difficult as it only stays in the blood for one week and after that, it becomes hard to tell it apart from other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue.
- Zika virus can cause paralysis
Researchers link Zika to Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), an immune syndrome that can cause paralysis and in some cases, death. Although there is not enough evidence to support this claim, health authorities noticed an increase in the number of GBS in El Salvador in just a month.
Creeping paralysis: Possible link to Zika virus https://t.co/gz2wD4JWwN
— Alyeska Dawn (@AlyeskaDawn) February 17, 2016
- Travelers are bringing the Zika virus with them
“The first travel-associated Zika virus disease case among U.S. travelers was reported in 2007,” said CDC spokesperson Benjamin Haynes. “From 2007 to 2014, a total of 14 returning U.S. travelers had positive Zika virus testing performed at the CDC.”
According to him, at least eight U.S. travelers have tested positive for the viral disease.
— USA TODAY Health (@USATODAYhealth) February 19, 2016
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]