What is Zika? A virus spread mainly by mosquitoes that can cause birth defects and other illnesses. People have mainly been concerned with the birth defect microcephaly, but new research is suggesting ALL people should be concerned. A person infected with the virus can pass it along by having sex, or to local mosquito populations through mosquito bites. The birth defect often cannot be identified until the second trimester, which means that for now, many couples will have to make decisions about their pregnancy with incomplete information.
Who Should be Concerned? Pregnant? Everyone! Zika appears to cause other brain and autoimmune problems, besides microcephaly, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the immune system attacks nerves, leading to weakness and temporary paralysis. The more research that is being done the more researchers are discovering that Zika is having long term effects on people’s memory and brain.
Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases notes that we don’t know how long a woman should be worried about Zika potentially putting her baby at risk of microcephaly. “If my daughter had gotten Zika two years ago and she wanted to get pregnant, I would say, ‘Don’t worry,’” says Dr. Beth Bell, but we don’t know how long that immunity lasts. Is it lifelong? Is it five years? We don’t have an answer.”
Where: Zika is here in the United States. There have been local transmissions in both mainland Florida in Miami and Miami Beach.
Nearly 500 New Yorkers — including 49 pregnant women — have tested positive for the Zika virus, a more than tenfold increase since April, city officials said Tuesday. Five of the 483 victims contracted the virus through sex.The others are believed to have been infected from mosquito bites while traveling outside the United States — a majority in the Dominican Republic. No transmissions have been reported via local mosquitoes
Visit the CDC to see the exact and current list of countries/states with travel advisory
Prevention: Use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves! Look into new technologies According to the CDC, use insect repellents that contain one of the following ingredients: DEET (20% to 30% concentration is best, according to the CDC), picaridin, oil-of-lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane–diol or IR3535. The mosquitoes that spread Zika are day biters. And since a mosquito needs only a tiny bottle-cap-size pool of water to lay as many as 200 eggs, you should remove any standing water around your home and clean any vessels you find. Because even after the water source has dried out, the eggs can remain dormant and survive for months, sometimes even up to a year, on the inside of a container.
Vaccination: No time soon! Researchers in the United States have begun safety testing of multiple vaccine candidates. Researchers are planning a study to infect volunteers with the Zika virus. If government regulators agree, researchers could find out by injecting paid volunteers with different amounts of lab-grown Zika virus as early as December in a Baltimore hospital. That information will help the researchers later, when they’re ready to test an experimental Zika vaccine. Researchers have already tested some vaccines in monkeys and have been successful in preventing the spread of Zika in the vaccinated monkeys.