Published: Tue, February 09, 2016
Health | By Jay Jacobs

What you need to know about the Zika virus


A medical researcher works on results of tests for preventing the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the Gorgas Memorial institute for Health Studies laboratory in Panama City.

The disease, which is carried by the same mosquito that produced dengue fever and chikungunya, is particularly unsafe pregnant women and is believed linked to microcephaly - a congenital condition that is characterized by newborns with unusually small heads and incomplete brain development. Since there's no drugs and vaccines for the virus for the time being, mosquito control might be a more effective way to curb the transmission of Zika.

The Minister of Health in a statement said that the confirmation of the virus had come from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Regional Public Health Agency (CARPHA) as it appealed to people here to ensure that they did not provide an environment for the Aedes aegypti mosquito to survive.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday that about 41 percent of USA respondents who were aware of the disease said they were less likely to take such a trip.

Simelane said the ministry had put in place a technical team, which would monitor the situation in the country.

The CDC recommends wearing long-sleeve shirts and using insect repellent among many things to protect yourself from mosquitoes in areas where the Zika virus is found.

Schuchat and Dr. Anthony Fauci are hoping to educate people, mainly pregnant women, and give facts and information, so that they can make a decision about traveling to a country or region affected by Zika.

The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947, and until previous year was not thought to pose serious health risks.

Scientists have suspected that Zika could be transmitted sexually, and there have been scattered reports of similar occurrences in recent years.

According to the WHO Media Centre fact sheet on the Zika virus disease, it is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

The timing of the White House request is unclear.

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