Contributed by Alli Weis
The Olympics are upon us in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and with the merriment and competition comes serious warnings of the Zika Virus. Zika is transmitted by the mosquito in endemic areas and; additionally, has recently been shown to be a sexually transmitted disease. Brazil is a hotspot for viral transmission, and athletes are being cautioned to stay away from mosquito-infested areas, wear repellent (particularly with deet) use mosquito netting, and do not have unprotected sex. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now designated the virus a public health emergency of international concern and has estimated that up to 4 million people could become infected by the end of the year 2016. Almost 60 countries (as of May, 2016… possibly more now) have reported a Zika Virus outbreak.
Zika has spread to the United States. In recent reports from the CDC and reported by the NY Times, Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami, Florida is ground zero for Zika in the US. Research has progressed on Zika and the link between the virus and microencephaly has been strengthened. Pregnant women are most affected by the virus (along with their fetus) and the virus seems to be causing the drastic effects of small-headedness, mental retardation and abnormalities. In addition to those severe symptoms, the average non-pregnant person will experience a fever, rash, and/ or joint pain. While the spread of the disease is alarming, most people have been reported as not being in a panic about it. It’s bad, but it’s not something we’ll die from seems to be the sentiment.
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