Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is the Zika Virus?


If you haven’t heard of it by now, Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that’s popping up all over South and Central America as well as parts of the Caribbean. After dealing with the Ebola epidemic, the general public seems to be frightened by the thought of another foreign virus with a funny name. So that begs the question, should we be afraid?



The Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in Uganda and in 1958, scientists found that it was primarily carried through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. At that time, it was thought to be relatively harmless due to its mild symptoms and quick recovery time. In fact, many of the people who get the virus don’t show any symptoms at all.

Recently however, due to the growing number of reported cases of infection, scientists have discovered that the virus can cause two unlikely but unfortunate conditions. First of all, the virus has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause paralysis. Secondly, pregnant women who have been infected with Zika have been found to have babies with microcephaly, a birth defect that causes issues in brain development. This has been such a problem that the governments of some countries have asked women to put off getting pregnant until the epidemic blows over.


So far, we haven’t been able to necessarily prove the link between the Zika Virus and these conditions, but the correlations exist. We are learning new information about it every day, and using techniques that prevent mosquito bites (bug spray, long-sleeve shirts, mosquito nets, etc), there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to overcome this epidemic.

 source: "What You Need to Know about Zika Virus - Harvard Health Blog." Harvard Health Blog RSS. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2016. .

Posted by: Forootan Alizadehasil

9 comments:

  1. I appreciate your optimistic viewpoint, that there isn’t a reason we shouldn’t be able to overcome this epidemic. I also believe that because of how the virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, and not necessarily contagious it will be easier to overcome. I do find it worrisome that recently this Zika virus has been identified in the United States through international travel and that there are currently no vaccines that can be used to treat or prevent the infection of the virus. However, I believe that since there are other diseases that are transmitted through mosquitos as well, there will be a cure for this epidemic soon.

    Yustina Kang (Group 2)

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    Replies
    1. I completely agree. I personally think the ebola virus was a lot scarier in the sense that it was likely to kill you once you got it. This doesn't seem as urgent, but I still hope we take it seriously.

      Forootan Alizadehasil

      Delete
  2. After dealing with Ebola and many diseases, scientists will be able to control Zika and find vaccine to it. Nobody knows how long it is going to take, but I hope soon. I have heard that there might be possibility that Zika is transmitted through sexual intercourse besides mosquito bite and mother to child transmission.
    I hope it is cured soon.

    Mohammed Saleh

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  3. It seems strange to me that other possible effects such as microcephaly weren't ever noticed when the disease was discovered in 1947. Diseases transmitted by mosquitos have been springing up fast lately, and it's scary to think just how quick they can spread. Hopefully this will be a disease that scientists can crack open and come up with a cure.

    Chris Richard

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    Replies
    1. I've done some reading and a lot of scientists believe that climate change has been expanding the reach of mosquitos, allowing them to live in areas that were uninhabitable to them in previous years. We often don't think about the consequences climate can have. Something tells me those consequences can potentially be a lot worse than the zika virus.

      Forootan Alizadehasil

      Delete
    2. I've done some reading and a lot of scientists believe that climate change has been expanding the reach of mosquitos, allowing them to live in areas that were uninhabitable to them in previous years. We often don't think about the consequences climate can have. Something tells me those consequences can potentially be a lot worse than the zika virus.

      Forootan Alizadehasil

      Delete
  4. I have just recently heard about this disease and it is really unfortunate news to hear especially for women who are currently pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future. I have heard and read in some articles that women are asked to hold off pregnancy for as little as 6 months in some countries but others are requested to hold off getting pregnant for 2 to 3 years. In this article it says that women in El Salvador should avoid to be pregnant until 2018! This is so sad and I hope there is a cure!

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/latin-america-zika-virus-women-pregnancy-abortion

    Sarah Ona

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  5. This up and coming issue has proved to be very dangerous to pregnant women however I would like to uncover the exact science behind waiting off on the pregnancy and how much more effective the disease is when you are first infected.

    -Michael Sheikhai

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