What is Zika Virus?



Although Zika virus was first identified almost 70 years ago, you may have not heard about it until recently. So why is it a trending topic and health concern in 2016? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

“Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.”

So how is Zika virus spread and what are the symptoms of Zika virus disease? According to the CDC, Zika virus is spread “primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.” Zika virus causes Zika virus disease, or just Zika for short.

The CDC lists the most common symptoms of Zika as:

  • Fever
  • Rash,
  • Joint pain,
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.

Researchers are studying the possible link between Zika virus disease and birth defects in pregnant women. The CDC recommends that pregnant women delay travel to countries where Zika is prevalent or talk with their doctor prior to their trip to discuss possible risks.


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