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The Zika Virus: What We Know (And What We Don't)


The recent headlines concerning outbreaks of the Zika virus has caused many people to become alarmed. Across Central and South America, the disease has unfortunately been spreading. For decades, Zika had been a harmless virus for decades until very recently. This virus is a member of Flavivirus, which is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and is related to yellow fever, dengue and other similar diseases. Though it's first known effect was dated back in 1947, but the recent outbreak happened on an isolated set of islands in


This virus is a member of Flavivirus, a family of viruses which is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and is related to yellow fever and dengue. Its first known effect was dated back in 1947, and the recent outbreak happened on an isolated set of islands in South Pacific island Yap. However, at the time, results were mild and not life threatening. Major concernsfor this virus were raised last year in 2015 when in Brazil nearly four thousand babies were born with extremely small heads, a condition known as microcephaly. Test run through pregnant women showed

Major concerns for this virus was raised last year in 2015 when in Brazil, nearly four thousand babies were born with extremely small heads, a condition known as microcephaly. Tests run through pregnant women showed the presence of RNA from the Zika virus, confirming suspicion of an outbreak.

Besides being spread by mosquitos, Zika can also be spread through sexual transmission. A person already affected by the virus can transmit the self reproducing virus through sexual contact with another. The virus is strong enough to transmit itself from a mother to its child crossing the placenta during the time of pregnancy. Blood transfusion is also a cause of this virus, and between 2013 and 2014, 2.8% of the French Polynesian blood donors were found positive and were asymptotic for the virus during blood donation.

Common symptoms of this virus include headaches, fever, rashes, and joint pains. As of now, there are no vaccines or preventive drugs for this virus. 

Recommended preventative measures include increased rest, fluid intake, and paracetamol. Research for vaccines is currently taking place, but until then, great caution has to be taken with this virus. Avoiding traveling to places where the virus is known to exist is highly advised. Use of insect repellent, wearing full sleeve clothes, and exposing as little skin as possible are also useful strategies to take. Additionally, using condoms while having sexual intercourse and avoiding to go outdoors in affected areas will help in being safe from being affected.

Unfortunately, the Zika virus is currently proving itself to be an enigma to the scientific community. However, much research for the virus is currently being conducted, and hopefully, the effects of the Zika virus will soon be mitigated and even eradicated in the near future.

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