If you have been listening to the news on television lately or reading the headlines, you have probably heard of the Zika virus. It hit the news especially hard in early February, when the World Health Organization named it a global emergency.
What is Zika and what does it do? It is a virus spread primarily by mosquitos. In recent months, the incidence in Latin America has risen strikingly.
A person with Zika will not necessarily know they are infected—more than three-quarters of those with the virus never experience any symptoms.
If symptoms are felt, they are quite mild. Rashes, fever, headaches, and soreness are the only symptoms.
There is no medicine available, but patients are told to drink lots of fluids and get bed rest. It is seldom serious and almost never fatal.
However, Zika may be dangerous to pregnant women. Why? Women with it seem to have a high risk of giving birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition where the heads and brains of newborns are abnormally small. Microcephaly causes multiple conditions and even death in babies and children.
Zika also seems to be linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis.
Neither condition has been scientifically proven to have been caused by the Zika virus. The only evidence is the correlation, which doctors are still studying.
However, the threat to pregnant women is serious enough that U.S. health officials have recommended that pregnant women not travel to infected areas.
It has recently been shown that sexual transmission may play a part in the transmission. However, health officials have been clear that mosquitos are overwhelmingly the carrier.
Given this, it is imperative that mosquito control be a priority this year. Give us a call to make sure your area is free of the carriers of this potentially deadly virus.