The Verdict on The Zika Virus: Guilty or Not Guilty
The Zika virus. Six months ago very few people had even heard of this virus. Now it seems you would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of it. Zika has raced to the top of the “Things to Be Scared Of” list, causing even the Zombie Apocalypse to fall out of the running.
This scary virus, carried and distributed by mosquitos, has become the talk of the world in the past few weeks. It is a virus that causes no symptoms in 80 percent of those who contract it. But in South and Central America, it is thought to be linked with microcephaly, a birth defect causing smaller than normal heads and skulls in infants.
Now researchers are beginning to doubt whether their initial pronouncement that Zika is entirely to blame for birth defects in Brazil, or could there be another reason.
CDC Gets Involved
The US government is sending a team of epidemiologists from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to Brazil to gather data on hundreds of Brazilian women who have given birth to babies with microcephaly.
Zika – or Something Else?
There has been a significant increase in microcephaly in Brazil that seems to coincide right around 9 months after an outbreak of the Zika virus. And, Zika virus has been found in the brains of a small number of babies with microcephaly. But the researchers do not believe that in itself is enough to say that the virus is to blame. There could be other factors, such as whether the mothers had any other infections such as toxoplasmosis or cytomeglovirus when they were pregnant. Also they will try to determine if the women were exposed to anything in the environment, such as mercury or pesticides.
Emphasis on Prevention!
But, studies such as this one take time. It could be years before the definitive cause of microcephaly is determined. Right now we need to take as many precautions as necessary to stem the spread of the Zika virus, in case it is found to be the culprit. Bug spray, long sleeves, mosquito nets and whatever else is available can and should be utilized. Clearing away standing water where mosquitos can lay their eggs is another preventative action.
Warmer weather and mosquito season will be upon us before we know it. So, be vigilant in keeping mosquitos away and remember the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”