Earlier today, the Zika virus took another headline hostage. According to the NY Daily News, a 17-year-old Connecticut teen recently found out she has the virus. She’s also pregnant and has decided to keep the baby. However, she’s not the only one to deal with both situations at the same time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 44 pregnant women are currently coping with Zika – and that’s just in the U.S. alone.
Even if you’re not currently with child, you should still be concerned about this disease. In the United States, 472 people have Zika. Plus, many other countries are dealing with the virus. Here’s why we should be aware of what’s happening:
1. Zika is an international problem.
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization proclaimed the Zika virus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. That’s because – although virus outbreaks have occurred in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands – Zika will most likely spread to new locations.
2. The virus spreads easily – and fast.
Zika can easily be transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This will most likely happen abroad, but uninfected mosquitoes can then bite the infected person, contract the disease, and spread it in a new area.
3. It can be sexually transmitted.
As of right now, it is known that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. According to the CDC, “In known cases of sexual transmission, the men had Zika symptoms. From these cases, we know the virus can be spread when the man has symptoms, before symptoms start, and after symptoms end.” It’s not yet known if women can spread the disease as well.
4. The symptoms can be experienced by anyone.
Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still experience Zika symptoms for several days to a week. These are the effects we must look out for: fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.
5. Zika causes birth defects in babies.
In pregnant women, Time reveals that Zika can cause serious birth defects. Specifically, the virus can cause microcephaly, which results in brain damage and babies being born with abnormally small heads.
6. There is no treatment.
7.Those at the 2016 Summer Olympics may be at risk.
Considering that the 2016 Summer Olympics are set to happen in Brazil, Zika should definitely be on our radar because over 1,000 cases of microcephaly have occurred there. Time reports that soccer star Hope Solo is even worried about picking up the disease there. She stated, “I do want to start a family and I don’t want to be worried.”
To keep Zika at bay, the CDC recommends that we apply insect repellent, work to keep mosquitoes out of our homes, use condoms during sex, and to even prepare our own Zika Prevention Kits. These should contain: A bed net, insect repellent, permethrin spray, standing water treatment tabs, and condoms. For more information, you can visit the CDC website.