Zika Virus Info
Top U.S. officials, including Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed heightened concern about the threat posed to the United States by the Zika virus, saying the mosquito is now present in about 30 states and hundreds of thousands of infections could appear in Puerto Rico. At a White House briefing, they stepped up pressure on Congress to pass approximately $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Zika preparedness. “Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” Dr. Schuchat said.
Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness usually is mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. In some cases, the virus has been linked to a broader array of birth defects throughout a longer period of pregnancy, including premature birth and blindness in addition to the smaller brain size caused by microcephaly.
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to areas with Zika. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. Pregnant? Read this before you travel!
Zika virus is causing birth defects rarely seen before, including collapsed brains and skulls, according to Dr. William Dobyns, a Seattle Children’s hospital expert in genetics and pediatric neurology. Dr. Dobyns is monitoring the epidemic sweeping across Latin America and the Caribbean — and rapidly approaching the U.S. mainland. At least half of 40 brain scans from Brazil that he has examined meet criteria for a rare condition known as fetal brain disruption sequence.