The Zika Virus Is Moving Around The Globe Faster Than Expected
The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The virus is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family and the Flavivirus genus. The virus arrived in Brazil last year reprted by NPR.org and more than a million people in Brazil have been infected by the mosquito-transmitted virus since then. Symptoms of the Zika virus are not usually fatal. In fact, most Zika virus symptoms are more annoying than painful, although the body aches can be severe at times.
Sergio Cortes, the chief medical professional in the Brazilian government said medical researchers are working on a vaccine, but they can’t seem to find one. The main reason that the world is concerned about the spread of the Zika virus is its effect on pregnant women. According to an NPR.org report, more than 3,500 babies have been born with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition that impacts the fetus before birth. Babies with microcephaly have small heads and suffer from a brain defect. Mothers in Brazil are scared that they could be carrying the disease and not know it. Dr. Cortes says 1 in 5 people with the virus have no symptoms.
Dr. Cortes told R7.com that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans to stay away from Brazil. But according to Cortes, the virus is spreading faster than anyone expected. Three travelers from the UK were recently diagnosed with the Zika virus, and the government of El Salvador is asking women not to get pregnant because of recent cases of the virus in that country.
Brazil is not the only country reporting cases of the Zika virus. Colombia, Guyana, Suriname and El Salvador are reporting cases and that mean the virus is going to reach Europe as well as North America sooner than later, according to Dr. Cortes. The fact that the world is aware of the threat to pregnant women will help researchers find a vaccine that will control the infection and the damage caused by the virus. Dr. Cortes believes the more aware we are the better the chances of stopping the spread of the virus.
The symptoms of the Zika virus include red spots on the skin, a high fever, red eyes and muscle and body pain. Some infected people experience more pain than others and those symptoms last longer than the ten day period most virus sufferers experience.
Bruno Del Guerra, a member of the Epidemiological Surveillance Itapetininga in São Paulo, said that there are two other viruses carried by mosquitoes that cause the same symptoms, and that is causing some issues in the medical community. The two other viruses are the chikungunya virus and dengue. Researchers have not found a vaccine for those viruses either.
If Zika spreads at the same rate it is spreading now; the United States will start reporting cases this year, according to Dr. Cortes. Cortes hopes his Brazilian team will find a vaccine to control the disease before it has a chance to infect pregnant women in North America.