Even with today’s advance modern medicine, the world continues to struggle with viral disease outbreaks. Every year there seems to be a new epidemic, 2014 was Ebola and 2015 was the Chikungunya virus. However, during these years another virus was also spreading, the Zika virus. Now in 2016, the Zika outbreak has reached pandemic levels.
What is it?
Similar to the Chikungunya virus, the Zika virus is a member of the Flavivirus virus family. These types of viruses spread through mosquito bites. The flu-like symptoms usually include a fever, joint pain, rash and red eyes. Already, the outbreak has rapidly spread to 25 countries. Starting from Africa and Asia to French Polynesia, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. Making this infectious disease a pandemic because it has crossed various borders throughout large regions. So far, 4 million cases have been reported. The virus is expected to spread to U.S rather quickly.
Luckily, hospitalization and death from the virus has been rare. But, the disease can be detrimental to pregnant woman. If infected, these women can yield a newborn with brain damage. There have been 3,500 cases of this birth defect, known as microcephaly, reported in Brazil since May 2015.
How to Treat it
There is currently no vaccine available. So to treat the virus, infected individuals have to do it the old fashioned way, by getting plenty of sleep, drinking fluids and taking fever reducing medicine.
How to Prevent it
Some recommended ways to help prevent the virus is by avoiding areas with high populations of mosquitoes and staying away from the infected countries. If you must travel to these areas, use mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and cover your skin as much as possible. Do not travel to these places if you are pregnant. If you are infected, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of the illness. This will help inhibit the virus from spreading to others, since the mosquitoes act as the carriers.
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