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Mosquito-borne Virus Threatens the World

Mosquito-borne Virus Threatens the World
February 01
16:56 2016

A mosquito-borne virus known as “Zika” has swept through 21 countries since its initial outbreak in Brazil last May. The CDC has issued a Level 2 travel alert for anyone traveling to infected areas. The Zika virus will “continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found,” warns the World Health Organization.

Aedes-aegypti-1The transmission of Zika by way of the Aedes mosquito has been well documented. WHO explains that Zika’s “rapid spread” is also exacerbated by a general lack of immunity to the new virus.

Zika typically causes rash, fever, red eyes, and joint pain. Although the illness is mild and lasts no longer than a week, Zika has recently been tied to birth defects.

Earlier this month, a mother who had been diagnosed with Zika gave birth to the child pictured above. Little José suffers from microcephaly (unusually small head). Turns out he had contracted the virus while still in the womb.

There have been a shocking 3,893 cases of microcephaly in Brazil since last October. The average number for such a defect is 160. President Obama responded to this drastic increase in microcephaly by issuing a call for action.

Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization recommends that pregnant woman avoid all areas in which the virus is common. The organization also urges people to reduce mosquito populations by eliminating standing water. Anyone living in or traveling to areas where Aedes mosquitoes are common is advised to use insect repellent, wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, and sleep beneath a mosquito net.

The Zika virus has been documented in the following countries: Brazil, Africa, Asia (southeast), Samoa, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Martinique, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela, and the US Virgin Islands.

Aedes mosquito distribution as estimated by WHO

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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