The Zika virus has officially hit the United States, and Wake County is the latest to confirm it. The Oklahoma State Department of Health is advising extra precautions for residents everywhere.
Even Pope Francis has recognized the threat that the new virus poses to everybody, especially pregnant women. His statement that condoms may be used to prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus has caused quite a stir, especially since he still opposes the prevention of other diseases through the same means.
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Technically, the Zika virus isn’t scary. It causes rashes, joint and muscle pain, and fever, and health officials have stated most people won’t develop any symptoms at all. However, the most disturbing possibility is that pregnant mothers infected with the virus may end up giving birth to children with microcephaly or other birth defects. Microcephaly results in children with smaller heads than those of the same age and gender.
Other more severe birth defects have been known to be linked to the spreading virus as well.
It is unknown if microcephaly accompanies any further birth defects, though it is childbirth which is most affected when this particular virus hits. The latest confirmation of the virus in Wake County appears to be a woman not of child-bearing age, according to WRAL. NBC News states that it was two residents who traveled abroad, but they haven’t given any details on who the two residents are.
“We are in contact with the patient and monitoring the patient’s progress. We want to reassure citizens that there is currently no risk of transmission from this patient to others,” Wake County public health division director Sue Lynn Ledford said.
It has been recommended that if you travel to areas with confirmed cases of the virus, you should take advice from Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.
“We are recommending that individuals returning from travel to areas where Zika virus has been identified to consult with their physician if they exhibit any of the symptoms associated with the disease, particularly women who are pregnant. Fortunately for Oklahoma, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is not commonly found in the state.”
The upcoming 2016 Olympics could open the risk of contracting the virus, and the Center for Disease Control advises pregnant women to avoid attending the event. People from across the world will be there, and the chances are greater of coming into contact with someone who has been exposed to the Zika virus.
There are currently over 100 cases of the virus in the United States, though none of them are reported to be from mosquito bites. It is considered generally harmless, but you should still take steps to prevent contracting it. Hawaii isn’t taking any chances, having declared a health emergency over the Zika virus and Dengue fever last month.
Zika virus confirmed in Oklahoma travelers https://t.co/ZMowubPghh
— Danny Robbins (@rdr5hunter) March 3, 2016
For the moment, there are no vaccines or medication you can take to prevent or eliminate the virus, other than preventative measures. Men who have traveled to areas with confirmed cases should use a condom when having sex for approximately a month after returning, to prevent the possibility of birth defects. If you live in an area with confirmed cases of the Zika virus, avoid outdoor activity as much as possible, and use air conditioning as opposed to open windows when summer and warmer weather hits.
[Image via vespa photo/Shutterstock.com]