Zika Virus Heading to the US

Could the ZIka virus be heading to the United States, and is this cause for concern?  Virologists are concerned with the Zika virus spreading to the US and causing an outbreak because of how quickly it has spread in recent years. With the first arrival in Puerto Rico during the holidays, and new reports of isolated cases in Texas, the concern is even more heightened.

Previously, it took the Zika virus over a century to spread through Central Africa and to the Far East.  It was then another eight years before it was seen across the Pacific in South America. But now the rate of the viral spread has increased, spreading through Mexico and the Caribbean by the end of 2015.  This is why scientists worry it will quickly spread through the United States as well. 

What is Zika?

The Zika virus is a virus spread through mosquitos that is most common in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America.  The CDC confirmed cases of the virus in the United States for the first time a few days ago.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

·       Fever

·       Rash

·       Joint pain

·       Eye redness

·       Symptoms are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya

·       Severe disease is uncommon

How is Zika treated?

Currently, there is not medication available to treat Zika.  As with other viruses, Zika relies on the body’s immune system to fight it off and with proper rest and hydration usually goes away within a week. You can take over the counter medicine to help reduce fever and aches or pains.

How serious is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is not fatal, but can pose some serious health complications. For example, the virus has been linked to microcephaly in infants whose mothers had been affected by the virus. Similarly, the Zika has also evolved in behavior making it possible to spread faster, and spread sexually. It is also theoretically possible to contract the Zika virus through blood transfusions.