According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus, which hit the U.S. for the first time in January when the first case was reported in Texas, was common in parts of Africa and South East Asia. In 2007, Zika, which is spread to people via mosquito bites, has been making its way to the Americas. By 2014, it landed in South America.
The World Heath Organization has placed Canada and Chile as the only countries in the Americas where the virus will not be a problem. That isn’t the case for Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadalupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, and Venezuela where outbreaks are reported currently. Zika thrives in tropical areas.
This news isn’t comforting for those who have plans to participate in and attend the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Pregnant women beware. While contraction of Zika rarely results in hospitalization, the virus is linked to a birth defect, microcephaly, which causes babies to develop abnormally small heads. Nearly 4,000 babies in Brazil over the course of 12 months have been born with microcephaly. As a result, pregnant women are being warned to avoid South America, especially the 22 countries where outbreaks have been reported.
There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Health officials suggests wearing mosquito net and insect repellant to prevent mosquito bites.
For now, Americans in the U.S. have the cold weather to thank for keeping mosquitos away.