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The Zika Virus: Be Aware

January 26, 2016
Plain English Version
Marilla Lima had Zika virus while pregnant. Her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, has microcephaly -- a birth defect characterized by a small head and severe brain damage.

Marilla Lima had Zika virus while pregnant. Her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, has microcephaly — a birth defect characterized by a small head and severe brain damage.

The U.S. government confirmed a dozen U.S. cases of Zika virus.  A mosquito spreads the virus. The government said pregnant women should not travel to countries in Central America, South America, and Africa.

This is what you need to know:

  • The Zika virus was found in Africa in the 1940s. It is now spreading in Latin America. The center of the virus is Brazil.
  • The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti The mosquito also carries dengue fever and yellow fever.
  • The Zika virus can lead to fever and a rash. Most people show no symptoms. There is no known cure.
  • The only way to fight Zika is to clear stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Countries are trying to fumigate mosquito-breeding waters. Also, people must protect themselves against mosquito bites.

Countries are trying to combat the virus. Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica are recommending that women delay becoming pregnant until they find a prevention.

The mosquitoes also transmit dengue, chikungunya and yellow fevers. An adult who contracts Zika might have mild symptoms. They may get a slight fever, a rash and pain in the joints and behind the eyes.

The real devastation occurs in babies born to women who have the virus. Scientists say there is a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition that leads to babies being born with small heads.

Hundreds of thousands of infections are ahead. As of now, there is no vaccine for the virus.

Source: The Washington Post January 22, 2016

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