Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus

The World Health Organization has declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus a global public health emergency, suggesting that up to 4 million people could be infected this year. The virus, spread by the common Aedes genus of mosquitoes, was identified in Africa in 1947. Brazilian researchers linked the virus with microcephaly in newborns in 2015 – and it not yet known if Zika is the only cause. Other research has linked the virus with Guillain-Barrê syndrome in adults. Exposure to the disease confers immunity but researchers do not know if that’s lifelong. In the West, few “have immune defenses against the virus, so it is spreading rapidly,” reports the New York Times. Separate reports suggest Africans and Asians could still be susceptible to the disease. “Scientific concern is focused on women who become infected while pregnant and those who develop a temporary form of paralysis after exposure to the Zika virus.” Zika is related to dengue and yellow fever, with only mild symptoms reported. The only test for the virus entails molecular screening of blood collected soon after the infection. For now, health officials are advising pregnant women to avoid travel to nations with high infection rates; all travelers should stay in screened rooms, wear insect repellant and remain fully clothed. A vaccine is not available. – YaleGlobal

Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus

Questions and unknowns about the Zika virus are many after researchers link a mosquito-borne disease discovered more than 65 years ago to birth defects
Donald G. McNeil Jr, Catherine Saint Louis and Nicholas St. Fleur
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
© 2016 The New York Times Company

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