Understanding the Zika Virus Threat
You probably heard a lot of fuss about the Zika virus recently, especially during the Rio Olympics in Brazil. This is because the World Health Organization WHO has declared it a global public health emergency. This is because the Zika virus infection has been linked to the births of thousands of babies with underdeveloped brains. It is a pandemic in progress by some medical experts’ descriptions, especially with the devastating effect it has on women. It is important for everyone to stay up to date and knowledgeable about the Zika virus.
One important factor to remember is that Zika rarely causes death in healthy adults. In fact, only one in five people infected by the Zika virus may develop the symptoms of the infection, which include a mild fever, conjunctivitis, joint pain, headaches and a rash. It is even rarer to develop the Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nervous system disorder causing temporary paralysis that has been linked to the zika virus infection. Currently, there are no treatments or vaccines for Zika virus prevention and treatment. Just like any other virus, doctors can only give painkillers in case of discomfort and encourage plenty of rest and hydration.
Microcephaly is the condition that has led to a lot of concern about the Zika virus and its effects on the human body, particularly that of a pregnant woman. Microcephaly refers to the condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head due to the underdevelopment of the brain. There are varieties of the condition but one thing that is constant is the brain cannot regulate all the functions vital to life. Some children die and the ones that do survive have development delays as well as intellectual disability for the rest of their lives.
Some governments are currently advising women to delay getting pregnant since zika is responsible for a broad set of complications in pregnancy. Besides the microcephaly, other challenges include miscarriages and stillbirths, premature births and eye problems. According to the Center for Disease Control CDC, Zika does linger in the blood for a week and the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Once the virus is cleared from the blood, pregnancy conceived after that is considered to be safe.
Zika is a huge health concern due to the speed at which it is spreading around the world. Zika virus is not only spread through sexual intercourse but mainly through the bite of an Aedes mosquito and this is why it is transmitted so easily. The main efforts in Zika virus control involve stopping the mosquito that spreads the virus while looking treatments and vaccines.
Maggie Martin is completing her Ph.D. in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow on Twitter @MaggieBiosource
Zika VirusSource: Pixabay