The Rise of Zika

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 0:50 AM

David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, Medical Discovery News Have you noticed in the past few years, we seem to be continuously assaulted by microbial menaces? Some years back it was SARS, which set off a global panic.

The Rise of Zika

By Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, Medical Discovery News

Have you noticed in the past few years, we seem to be continuously assaulted by microbial menaces? Some years back it was SARS, which set off a global panic. People were screened for fevers at many major international airports. Then came the W Nile virus, which started from a single case in NY and in a matter of years marched across the U. S. Who can forget the avian flu or swine flu, which happened around the same time? More recently, the MERS virus has emerged, with outbreaks in the Arabian Peninsula and then whole villages in Korea. We're just presently reaching the finish of the devastating Ebola outbreak in W Africa. Even if you're not an alarmist, it'south hard neglect the threat of these new microbial menaces.

The latest is one that we're beginning to know well is Zika. While it sounds love the title of a modern Scandinavian rock band, this virus was first isolated in one thousand nine hundred forty-seventh in Uganda. It emerged in the Pacific Islands before it spread to Brazil, and it'south rapidly spreading through two dozen countries in the Caribbean, Central America and S America. Now, cases of Zika have been confirmed in the U. S. and Europe in people who have recently traveled to an outbreak area where the virus is spreading. Individuals can also become infected after direct contact with someone who's just returned from one of these areas. What makes public health executive in America highly concerned about this virus is that it's spread by mosquitoes called Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that are common in the eastern and southeastern United States.

There is accumulating proof that Zika infection in pregnant women leads to birth defects, most notably microcephaly. This means Zika could potentially menace thousands of unborn fetuses. The images of the babies afflicted by this disorder, which causes abnormally tiny head sizes, are heartbreaking.

But the damage to babies born to a mother who was infected isn't Ltd to this highly visible birth defect. There is emerging proof that Zika can cause other neurological problems. In a recent study of forty-two fetuses from women testing positive for Zika, twelve babies showed a range of neurological problems. Seven had lesions in the central nervous system, five had issues with brain development and an extra two were stillborn. The neurological lesions are devastating and lead to significant developmental issues. Mothers who become infected with Zika immediately become portion of a high-risk pregnancy group. Proof presently suggests that Zika infection is associated with neurological disorders in children and adults as well.

Most adults who become infected with the Zika virus don't experience symptoms, and it'south generally mild for those that do. They've symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue and low fever, which generally latest two to seven days. Some adults however can expand Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. However, women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant in the close future should avert Zika-infected areas, and men who've traveled to Zika-infected areas should refrain from unprotected sex for at minimum two months since the virus can be transmitted sexually. Currently, there aren't any treatments or vaccines for Zika, so hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride this summer and beyond.

Medical Discovery News is hosted by professors Norbert Herzog at Quinnipiac University, and David Niesel of the Univ of TX Medical Branch. Memorise more at www. medicaldiscoverynews. com.

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