Public health officials all over the world are alarmed about the spread of the Zika virus. The headlines about the rapid spread of the virus are scary, but should you be concerned? Here’s what you need to know.
- Zika is not new. It was first discovered in 1947 in monkeys, but it was almost never seen in humans until 2007. In 2013, the disease really started to gain momentum in the South Pacific.
- The virus is spread by a type of mosquito that thrives not only in Central and South America but also in the southern parts of the United States.
- About 1 million cases of Zika have recently been reported in Brazil.
- If you catch Zika, it probably won’t be that bad. 80% of infected people have no symptoms at all. Others suffer from mild to moderate symptoms like fever, rash, and joint pain that go away after a few days. Death from Zika is extremely rare.
- Unless you are pregnant. The major reason that health officials are worried about Zika is because they believe that babies whose mothers are exposed to the virus are at increased risk of microcephaly — a birth defect that causes babies to be born with smaller than usual heads and brains. There are currently over 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil.
- Pregnant women have been advised not to travel to several countries, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.
- If you’re a man who contracts Zika, it could be possible to transmit the disease to your partner sexually. Additionally, your infection could increase her risk of catching the infection via mosquito.
- At least three cases of Zika have been confirmed in Houston in the past few days.
- Health officials urge the public to use mosquito deterrents to slow the spread of the disease. This means keeping windows shut, wearing protective clothing when headed into areas with mosquitos, and wearing mosquito repellant.