What’s The Ruckus About Zika?

If you’ve listened at all to the news lately then you’ve been hearing about Zika virus and the concern it’s causing about a possible link to microcephaly (babies born with small brains) from women who were infected during their pregnancy. I knew it was time to blog about Zika when I overheard another woman at the salon claiming that engineered mosquitoes were responsible for the Zika outbreak. Surely, this was a conspiracy theory but my suspense author brain was warmed up and not just because I was under a set of heat lamps.

I had to investigate (and make lots of notes for future books.)

Zika is a flaviviridae and is in the same family as Dengue, West-nile virus, and Hepatitis C. Zika is transmitted via mosquitoes so an infected person gets bit, and when that same mosquito bites another person, transmission can occur. 
Only about twenty percent of people infected with the virus will show symptoms. It’s unknown how long the incubation period is. An incubation period is from the time of infection until you show symptoms. 
Symptoms can include fever, rash, joint pain, headache and conjunctivitis lasting up to one week. Deaths related to Zika virus are rare. 
There is no current treatment for Zika other than prevention– which in this case is not getting bit by an infected mosquito. So repellent, mosquito nets, etc. The above information comes from the CDC website which you can further read here
 Zika was first discovered in 1947 in a Rhesus monkey in Zika Forest, Uganda. There have been previous cases in Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria before it broke free from Africa into other areas. It hit Chile in 2014 with cases until June 2014. And then it disappeared.

In May, 2015, Zika was confirmed in Brazil. The largest concern is Zika infection in pregnant women where it seemingly is causing arrested brain development in unborn babies or microcephaly. It’s unknown what percentage of infants, if any, develop microcephaly when the mother is infected with Zika during her pregnancy or at what point in the pregnancy this would be concerning for developing the congenital condition.

Brazil is where there was a noted spike in cases of microcephaly. Keep in mind, the link between Zika and this birth defect is suspected but scientifically unconfirmed. Some are postulating that the increased cases are due to hypervigilance and a broad screening net. The Brazilian government stated on January 27th “that of 4,180 cases of microcephaly recorded since October, it has so far confirmed 270 and rejected 462 as false diagnoses.”    

And, according to this well laid out article, the genetically engineered mosquitoes aren’t the cause for the spread of Zika. However, I do see the possibility of a future post and a very good basis for a medical thriller in the future.

What do you think about Zika? Are you worried about it? 

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