Health and Wellness–Zika Virus Info

ZIKA  VIRUS
During the past month the Zika virus infection has been a newsworthy item. We have been flooded by television news reports and online  images of newborn infants in Brazil with small malformed heads (microcephaly) and  enlarged images of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the Zika virus. This has instilled some warranted concern for certain populations e.g.(pregnant women),but there is a growing panacea of fear and anxiety .
 
Exactly what is the Zika Virus?
Zika is a virus that was discovered in 1947 in monkeys in the forest of Uganda. It was not known to be problematic for humans for many years until spreading to Micronesia and most recently Brazil. Zika is now in over 25 countries in South America and the Caribbean, and is spreading. It is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites and can be transmitted sexually to a female by an infected male partner. The virus has been isolated in the blood, semen,  and urine of infected individuals. There have been 48+ reported cases of Zika in the United States which were transported into the country by infected individuals.
Zika is suspected to cause birth defects, microcephaly, neurological defects, and visual abnormalities in newborns of women infected during pregnancy. Up to 80% of infected individuals may have no symptoms but 20% may have the symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. There is no treatment for Zika virus at this time although there has been some progress towards genetic modification of the male mosquito and the development of a vaccine.
There is some very recent speculation, however, by a group of physicians and scientists in Argentina and Brazil that a pesticide, pyriproxyfen, which has been injected into the drinking water tanks in Brazil is the true cause of the microcephaly birth deformity and not the Zika virus.  At this time there is insufficient evidence to determine the true cause of the birth defects and other possible conditions associated with Zika.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
  1. Pregnant women should avoid travel to Zika infested areas and avoid unprotected sex if their male partner has recently traveled to a Zika infected area.
  2. Avoid mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent and covering as much of your skin as possible wearing long sleeves and long pants.
  3. Walk around your property and eliminate everything than can collect water (e.g. old tires, watering cans, pots) and breed mosquitoes
  4. Consider having a professional treat your property for mosquitoes.
  5. Stay informed and updated about Zika by checking the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/zika.
We will see more Zika infections in the USA in the coming warmer months, even here in Georgia.  Throughout biblical history and the current times, humanity has experienced pestilence of many varieties and we must remember and have faith as Christians that the Lord will see us through this.  Take reasonable precautions as outlined by the CDC and continue living with hope, confidence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Flora D. Cox, M.D.



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