The Zika virus is becoming a major health issue around the world. In Brazil, more than a half a million cases of the Virus have been reported so far and the country’s top doctor, Sergio Cortes, says that is just the beginning because the virus just arrived in Brazil last year. Brazil is listed as one of the countries to avoid by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that warning doesn’t help the people that live in Brazil. Brazilians are exposed to the mosquitoes that carry the disease on a regular basis.
According to National Public Radio, pregnant women are at greater risk because the virus attacks the fetus, and a condition known as microcephaly develops as a result of the mother’s exposure to the virus. Brazil is trying to develop a vaccine to control the spread of the virus plus the Brazilian army is trying to eradicate the mosquitos that carry the virus. More than 3,500 babies have been born with microcephaly and the medical community believes there is a definite connection between that condition and the Zika virus. But medical researchers don’t know how to stop it, according to Dr. Cortes.
Microcephaly is a condition that produces a small head in infants and a brain disorder. Doctors are not sure if the same mosquitoes are carrying three types of viruses that act like the Zika virus, but the symptoms of those viruses are almost identical. Dr. Cortes says the symptoms include a high fever, red spots on the skin, red eyes, and body and muscle aches.
The condition known as dengue creates pain behind the eyes as well as muscle pain, and the virus known as chikungunya creates the symptoms that appear in Zika patients. Bruno Del Guerra, a member of the Epidemiological Surveillance Itapetininga in São Paulo, says some symptoms are more dominant than others, and that is the way doctors identify which virus is causing the disease.
Bruno Del Guerra says the joint pain is more intense in patients that have the chikungunya virus, and people with Zika that are not pregnant don’t have the same kind of pain. Not all people that have the Zika virus show symptoms. About 1 in 5 infected people show symptoms, according to Dr. Cortes.
The best way to control the spread of the disease is to find a vaccine, but that could take time, according to Cortes. The disease has not spread to the United States yet, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it will. Right now, the word is, just isolated cases will be reported in the United States. But if the Zika virus is anything like other viruses, it could turn out to be a major concern for people all over the country, especially people living in Florida, California and other states where mosquitoes breed in large numbers.