Microcephalic Babies Are Tied to Zika viral infections during their first 3 months of fetal development. Source bn.thetodaypost.com
Zika virus (Zv) infects people via daytime mosquitoes carrying it, and rarely via sex with infected partners. Mosquitoes can bite infected people and then bite others, transmitting Zv to new people.
- in individuals, Zv typically causes no to mild symptoms (joint pain, irritated eyes, fever), dies out in the body after a week, and leaves the person immunized from further infection.
Zv, related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile viruses, is kept alive via a wild host population in Africa. Immunized people are no longer hosts, but sources are maintained in wild animals that carry the virus.
The Current Spread of Zika Virus. Source Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- In 2015 Zv spread probably from Pacific islands to Central America, where vast human populations are potential temporary hosts to the virus.
Mosquitoes Transmit Zika Virus, but the sources are in animals that carry the virus.
Credit James Gathany at Wikimedia Commons
*Ultimately, widespread vaccination within human populations will likely keep Zv to manageable levels, but not wipe it out. Those same mosquitoes will probably infect American animals, which will be American carrier hosts. Such animals carry the live virus in their blood on a long-term basis, and are perpetual sources of it. Knowing which species are carriers and killing them all off simply isn't feasible.
For pregnant women who have traveled or are in Zv zones: get tested for it. See the CDC page for details. If you test positive, consider serial ultrasounds to track fetal development.
Go When You're Not Pregnant to Mexico and the following countries below, says the Center for Disease Control, to prevent any fetal harm. Source www.touropia.com
For pregnant women: postpone travel to Zv zones, which now include:
- Central and South America: Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela
DEET Containing Repellents Are Safe to use and effective at repelling mosquitoes. Source stlmosquitocontrol.com
Prevention In the Zv Zone:
Use mosquito repellent, and mosquito nets when napping.
For women travelers: avoid pregnancy. Use highly effective contraceptives.
For men travelers: make sure highly effective contraceptives are used if you have sex.
For women living long-term in Zv zones - consider postponing pregnancy (as several countries suggest) until:
- a vaccine becomes available, or
- you test positive for Zika virus antibodies: this indicates that you have already been infected with, and subsequently immunized against, Zv.
Swiss Cheese Model for accident causation. Failures in various prevention factors (holes in the cheese) can cause a Zika epidemic. Source Davidmack via Wikimedia Commons
Stopping Deforestation Slows Climate Change, and Zika Virus Spread
Develop an overall system for preventing its spread, which includes:
- Get vaccinated for Zv.
- Minimize mosquito breeding grounds in urban areas.
- Minimize activities that create breeding grounds, such as deforestation.
- Prevent further climate change, which helps mosquitoes proliferate and spread.