Reclaiming its position as the top story of 2016, the Zika Virus is back in the spotlight since the CDC warned health and government officials that the dangerous side effects of contracting Zika Virus are worse than they first feared. After months of scientific research confirmed suspected dangers and uncovered new ones, the CDC is urging officials to approve financing for further Zika research to combat this dangerous virus and learn the full extent of the possible health dangers.
Zika Virus DOES Cause Microcephaly in Infants
Until last week, health officials have been careful to label Zika Virus infection during pregnancy as being “linked” to microcephaly in infants. Medscape recently reported the “link” has been confirmed. Zika Virus is the cause of an increase in microcephaly and other birth defects in the affected areas. The news does not seem very shocking considering the statistics coming out of Brazil, but research continues to establish the extent of the risk as not all Zika infections in pregnant mothers will lead to birth defects.
Other Health Risks Linked to Zika
With so much focus on Zika in pregnancy, links to other health complications in non-pregnant individuals seem to be flying under the radar. Not just dangerous to babies and pregnant mother’s, the Zika Virus has been linked to two auto-immune disorders. Guillain-Barre syndrome and Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis both are diseases in which the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body. Additional research is already underway to establish the strength of these relationships.
Zika Mosquitoes Reach Further North
The week before the big news broke, the CDC updated their Zika mosquito map to span across 30 states, where only 12 were previously affected. Both the Aedes Aegypti and the Aedes Albopictus have migrated further north. The Aedes Albopictus (Asian Tiger) mosquito is an aggressive day feeder that has been found in parts of Southern Minnesota. Whether it will have a presence in Minneapolis this summer, only time will tell.
The CDC has issued two important guidelines for limiting the dangerous health effects of the Zika Virus. The first urges pregnant women to avoid travel to affected areas by following the CDC travel guide. There is also a guideline for couples considering pregnancy as the Zika Virus is sexually transmitted. With only 20% of patients experiencing symptoms, it could be very easy to transmit the disease to a pregnant spouse unknowingly. To avoid this possibility follow the CDC’s guide for couples. Of course, avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito bites is the best form of prevention in avoiding becoming infected with the Zika Virus.
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