The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

As of recent, the Zika virus has been of global concern. Here's what you need to know.

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The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons

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An epidemic that is starting to spread throughout Brazil and other countries, the Zika virus, has come to public attention. The Zika virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. In addition, fetuses can develop the Zika virus if their mother has been bit by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus.

If fetuses get the Zika virus, they can develop microcephaly, a disease which causes one’s head to be significantly smaller than normal. In Brazil, diseases such as microcephaly are especially devastating because parents tend to abandon their child at a state facility because they can no longer care for them.

Common symptoms of the Zika virus are muscle pain, red eyes (conjunctivitis), a rash, and headaches.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of the Zika virus in the United States have been relatively low. The only locally developed cases were in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All other cases are because people have traveled to countries where the Zika virus is present.

If you find yourself traveling to a place where the Zika virus currently is, make sure to follow precautionary measures to protect yourself. Although there are no vaccines currently available for the Zika virus, you can protect yourself by wearing a long shirt and pants, to cover up as much skin as possible.

Also, the CDC says to stay in places with air conditioning to keep mosquitoes outside. In addition, use Environmental Protection Agency registered mosquito repellents. These have been proven to be safe for pregnant women and children. Apply normally and regularly.

West’s spring break is just around the corner. If you are traveling to a place with mosquitoes, make sure to use enough insect repellent, and light insect repellent candles if you are outside.

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