The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is providing us with this information, in the hope that it will cultivate awareness and promote public health and safety.
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), but can also be spread during sex by a man infected with Zika to his partners. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms, but for those who do, the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects .Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas with Zika.Outbreaks of Zika areoccurring in many countries and territories, and because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. On Feb. 1, 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders in some areas affected by Zika. To date, Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, lab tests have confirmed Zika virus in travelers returning to the United States and in some non-travelers who got Zika through sex with a traveler. Additionally, local transmission of Zika has been reported in US territories, including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.
There are 820 confirmed Zika cases in the continental U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of this number currently there are 54 known cases in California and they have all been travel related. (These figures are constantly update by the CDC.)
With summer’s warmer weather, the virus-carrying mosquitos will start to migrate north.
Researchers who have studied Zika and the mosquitoes that transmit it say that the United States is currently in the calm before the calm. Damaging as Zika is to fetuses, they predict that domestic transmission will only affect a small swath of the country that stretches from Florida along the Gulf Coast to Texas. And the dynamics of mosquito-borne disease in the United States are so different from those in Latin America that the number of confirmed cases probably will be in the hundreds, if that, before domestic or locally indigenous spread sputters out.
Hot off the Wire: U.S. Olympic Athletes turning into Lab Rats.
In an upcoming study announced on Tuesday, the U.S. Olympic Committee, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, is hoping to volunteer its own staffers and U.S. Olympic athletes for a study that will help researchers answer some basic questions about the Zika virus.
The researchers will track volunteers’ health by testing for the presence of antibodies to the virus in their bodily fluids—blood, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions—both before they leave for Brazil and two weeks after they have returned. Anyone who is ill during the Olympics will also have the opportunity to submit specimens while in Rio; those who test positive, whether or not they have symptoms, will be asked to participate in monthly testing for at least six months afterward.
“This is an important study because it’s going to provide us some very timely and interesting information on the incidence of Zika for travelers to an area where there’s active Zika transmission,” said Dr. Catherine Y. Spong, acting director of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Travel Information from the CDC:http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information