"Zika is Here to Stay" - Says WHO
For all the containment efforts, the Zika virus is now found in over 30 countries in the world. The World Health Organization had declared an international medical emergency. It has been 9 months already and the problem has not been fixed. It seems like the WHO has thrown in the towel. They have declared that the Zika virus is "here to stay". The Virus has been linked to several birth defects. The worse of them includes microcephaly. This is a birth defect where babies are born with small heads. This limits plenty of their brain processes. In some cases, these limiters can cause their death. There have been over 2,100 cases of nervous-system malformations just in Brazil. The virus is most often spread through mosquitoes. However, the virus can also be passed through the parents. In rare cases, even after 6 months, the virus can circulate in the father’s system. The virus does not kill people. Only 1 in 5 develops symptoms of infection. You might be a carrier, and not realize it till it is too late. Those who do show symptoms only experience fever, a rash and minor joint pain. Dr. David Heymann head of the emergency committee of the WHO, says the virus will become an enduring threat. As of now, the WHO is planning a long term strategy for dealing with the infection. It is mostly widespread in parts of Latin America, and the Caribbean. Still, where did Zika come from? Zika was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. The carriers were monkeys that lived in the Jungle. The first human case was found in Nigeria in 1954. There were other minor outbreaks in Africa and South East Asia. There were even cases in the Pacific Islands. No one ever paid attention to the Zika virus because the outbreaks were small. It was not considered a major problem till May 2015. In Brazil, the virus became more widespread. It probably was spread around even more thanks to Brazil’s 2016 Summer Olympics. A good number of foreigners probably got infected and brought the virus back to their home country. This is a bit of an educated guess since most carriers of the virus do not show symptoms. In extremely rare cases, the patients may experience temporary paralysis known as Guillain-Barre Syndrone. There are no vaccines or treatment for the Zika virus. Patients are usually advised to drink plenty of fluids and rest. As for Microcephaly, the degree varies from child to child. In the US alone, there are over 25,000 cases reported each year. The rate has been increasing thanks to the Virus. While in the womb, the head develops slower. The surviving small-headed newborns end up with intellectual disabilities. Aside from Zika; rubella, drug abuse and genetic abnormalities cause Microcephaly. The government in some countries has advised women to delay pregnancy. Though, how long they will have to wait is still up for debate. The US Centers for Disease Control believes that the virus will not affect a baby conceived after the virus passes. They believe the virus stays in one’s blood for a week or so. Though, there are some people that have kept the virus for longer periods of time. Zika is considered a public health emergency because of the rate of the spread. From one to two cases to thousands, is sufficient cause for alarm. Due to the nature of the transmitting mosquito, the countries with recorded cases of the Zika virus are limited to the Southern Hemisphere. The virus is the handy work of the Aedes mosquitoes. They have been culling the human population since time immemorial. Roughly, 2 million humans die each year because of them. Aside from Zika, they spread dengue and the chikungunya virus. They cannot survive in cold climates. Unlike Malaria mosquitoes, the Aedes are active during the day time. As such, putting mosquito nets does not help one bit. If they drink the blood of an infected person, the can infect the next person they bite. So, if a mosquito bites you kill it, without mercy! It can also be transmitted through blood donations. Countries have advice that areas with past Zika cases, put off donating blood for at least a month. The only possible solution is to cover up, and use plenty of insect repellents. The windows and doors should also be kept closed. People should also take care of standing water, because they are favorite mosquito breeding ground. So clear up, buckets and flower pots. As of now, Brazilian scientists are scrambling to develop a vaccine. They have also tried to develop genetically modified mosquitoes, which are born sterile. This is an attempt to cull the mosquito population. Fumigation is also being tried. However, such measures have only helped to kill off all the bees instead. Experts from the National Institute of Health hope that a vaccine will be developed by 2017. If all goes as planned; it will be made available to the general public by 2018.