The Zika virus has impacted 33 countries, the WHO has declared the infection a public health pandemic with a global reach, and according to medical expert, Dr. Sergio Cortes, the real danger could be a toss up between unborn babies or Guillain-Barre syndrome. As previously reported by Dr. Cortes on his official site, fears have intensified as this potentially dangerous epidemic has exploded among various countries, and their is no cure to date.
Originally from Uganda and Tanzania, where the virus was detected for the first time in a macaque monkey in 1947, Zika virus was diagnosed in humans in 1964. It was not until 2007 when the first reported outbreak occurs, affecting 11% of the population of the Yap Island in Micronesia. The virus gradually appeared in French Polynesia and in Brazil in May 2015, but since October 2015, its been a rapid spread in the countries of Central and South America.
How to detect it? One of the great difficulties of the Zika virus is detection. “The majority of people infected with this virus – 70-80% of cases – never develop symptoms,” said Dr. Sergio Cortes on his blog: sergiocortesoficial. Some 20 to 30 percent of the remaining cases develop flu symptoms somewhere between 3 to 12 days after the mosquito bite.
Why are pregnant women at greater risk? “Pregnant women can transmit the virus to the fetus during their first and second trimester, which can lead to microcephaly, a serious abnormality of brain development in children.” Transmission of the virus causes neurological complications in newborns, following infection. Although the direct link has not yet been officially established by the WHO, yet scientist say it is very likely to be related. While not officially linked yet, doctors identified a boom of more than 4,000 cases of newborns diagnosed with microcephaly in Brazil, along with the spread of the Zika virus.
For now, there is no vaccine and no cure against infection. Only symptoms can be treated, typically with over-the-counter medicines. “The only way to stop the Zika virus is to control mosquitoes” says Dr. Sergio Cortes.
The Tiger mosquito has primarily spread the virus, however, the CDC has found the Zika virus can spread via transmission by sexual contact. Thus far, the WHO has avoided declaring any guidance on traveling in areas affected by the virus, but various countries are telling pregnant women to delay travel.
According to WHO, the development of a vaccine is expected to take more than a year. Updates on the Zika virus can be found on Dr. Sergio Cortes official blog. You can also keep up to date on his Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds.