Brazil hit with Zika outbreak


Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Abby Godawski, Contributing Writer

Outbreaks of a mosquito-transmitted infection called Zika virus have been spreading recently in Brazil. The Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted infection, has surfaced in Brazil leading to increased safety provisions around the world. The virus had its first outbreak in 2007, but has become increasingly prevalent.

Prior to 2015, the Zika virus was only found in parts of Asia and Africa, but as of May 2015, the first case migrated to Brazil. Brazil was hit hard, the virus taking over the country. Eventually, the Zika virus spread to most of northern South America including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela. In Central America, Zika is found in parts of Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, as well as other countries and many islands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a warning because of how fast it’s spreading.

Pregnant women and women looking to get pregnant should be careful because of the effects. The Zika virus can spread from the woman to the fetus and affect their baby. Many babies whose mothers have Zika virus have been born with a birth defect called microcephaly, which is when the baby’s head is significantly smaller than its body. Scientists are still researching the linkage between the virus and this birth defect.

Zika is a blood illness, and, if contracted, it is usually mild and only lasts from a couple days to a week. The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headache. There have been very few cases that have called for hospitalization or led to death.

CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have raised warnings that the Zika virus has potential to become a pandemic. This raises the question if the United States should become majorly involved in the eradication of the Zika virus.

CDC and WHO are researching to find more information on the Zika virus. Currently there is no vaccination, but there are precautions one can take to help prevent this disease. Some of these include wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, applying insect repellent and avoiding highly infected countries.

Sophomore Garrett Jennings acknowledges that many people are researching for more information and hopes the virus will be cured.

“Knowing that programs and experts are working towards a vaccine is extremely reassuring and hopefully the Zika virus will be eradicated soon,” Jennings said.

There have only been few confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the U.S. Many people are speculating if more should be done to find a cure to prevent the virus from migrating to the United States.

Others like senior Holly Straup are glad that the virus hasn’t become widespread in the U.S.

“I’m thankful the Zika virus hasn’t affected our area yet,” Straup said. “Hopefully we will soon find a cure for the people it has affected.”