The Zika virus has hit the United States and with it a growing concern about the possible consequences associated with contacting this disease. This travel-related mosquito-borne virus has been recently linked to serious birth defects. While pregnant women are being urged to avoid traveling to territories or countries where the Zika virus is spreading, it can also help to become more familiar with the nature of this illness before it reaches an epidemic. Cases of this infectious disease are soaring in the United States and explosively spreading says the World Health Organization (WHO) director Margaret Chan. Different states are now reporting cases of travelers bringing the Zika virus back with them.
Given the link to serious birth defects, preventing the spread of this dangerous virus is critical, so here are seven important things to know about Zika virus:
1. Unborn Babies Most at Risk
The biggest risk associated with the Zika virus is to those who are least able to protect themselves. If a pregnant woman is infected with the virus. the unborn child is at serious risk of developing microcephaly. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can result in mental retardation as well as delays in growth, movement, and speech. Nine pregnant women traveling back to the United States from being abroad who contracted the Zika virus, two lost the baby, two had elective terminations, and one was born with severe retardation. Brazilian health workers have seen an increase of 4,000 new microcephaly cases suspected to be caused by Zika virus.
2. Transferring the Virus
The Zika virus was originally thought to only be transferred from one to another by way of mosquito bites. The Zika virus is closely related to yellow fever, West Nile, and dengue viruses, and infection occurs as a result of being bitten by the Aedes mosquito. The virus was thought to only be passed from mosquito to human, and not human to human. The virus is injected into one human by a mosquito, and then when another mosquito bites that infected human it picks up the virus and spreads it by biting another human. According to the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College, it has been discovered the virus can now be spread through intercourse. According to health officials in Texas, a person became infected with the Zika virus after having sex with someone who traveled abroad.