We have all heard a great deal about the Zika virus lately. How much of an issue is it for us?
The virus is spread mostly through the bite of a particular type of mosquito (Aedes species mosquito Ae. aegypti and Ae. Albopictus if you want to know!). According to the Government run Centers for Disease Control (CDC) while this type of mosquito is found in some parts of the United States they are not currently carrying the virus. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus and if it infects pregnant women it may lead to birth defects. The areas where these mosquitos can be found includes almost all of the eastern part of the country and the southern belt across Arizona and into southern California.
These unfriendly mosquitoes can also carry the chikungunya, and dengue viruses and there have been small and limited outbreaks of these in Caribbean territories and Florida, Hawaii and Texas.
So at the moment there is no great need for concern in the USA, and Canada is beyond the range of this insect. A US company called Inovio has already started clinical trials on a vaccine for the virus so hopefully, even if the virus arrives, we will have an effective vaccine for it. In the meantime it is always a good idea to make liberal use of insect repellent outdoors if you are in a bite zone and take especial care with children. Anyone traveling to the Caribbean or Latin America who has concerns should consult their doctor and/or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.
UPDATE – No sooner had we posted to our blog Friday about the Zika virus saying (rightly at the time) there were no known cases on the US mainland, it was announced that four cases thought to be locally infected had been detected in North Miami. The CDC has updated its advisory notice which can be seen here http://www.cdc.gov/zika/intheus/florida-update.html.
The main suggestions from the US and overseas Governments relate to women who are or who may become pregnant. 80% of people infected with Zika show no symptoms but when infected can pass the disease to uninfected mosquitoes who bit them later. If you are in a southern state where the types of mosquitoes that carry Zika live please do use insect repellent not only to protect yourself but also to protect others should you become infected.
Anyone who is concerned should monitor the CDC site and speak with their doctor.
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