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Zika Virus sweeps the globe

Maria Glotfelter

Staff Writer

With every new disease or virus that circulates, people casually wonder as to the origins or symptoms of the “latest disease”. Education in this form is an indulgence of curiosity when no immediate threat is present. Although it may not seem of immediate concern to Millersville students, the Zika virus outbreak deserves attention because of its potential to spread. The CDC’s earlier reports state that the Zika virus was found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Due to its recent spread to South America, the virus has gained much attention over the past few weeks, and has been covered on both national and local news stations, in addition to the attention it has been getting through the media. The virus is originally carried by mosquitos, and can be transported from an infected person to other people through mosquito bites.

According to the CDC, symptoms of the Zika virus include the following: fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes) most prominently. Symptoms may also, more uncommonly, include muscle pains or headaches. The CDC also states that most symptoms last from a few days to a week. Although the possible of fatality always exists, that occurrence is unlikely in healthy adults. However, the Zika virus poses a more severe threat to a specific population: Infants. There is concern for mothers or expecting women who contract the Zika virus. There may be a connection to the Zika virus in mothers and birth defects in infants. There is a suspected correlation between the Zika virus and infants who are born with undersized heads, which may result in underdeveloped brains. The Zika virus is currently spreading in Brazil, and there have been higher rates of birth defects reported. Besides infants, there may be another group of people who have extra cause for concern.

This year’s summer Olympic games are to be held in Brazil. Consequently, Brazilian officials are facing tremendous international pressure to get this virus under control. Unsurprisingly, health officials are predicting a faster spread of the virus as the weather becomes warmer, since mosquitoes can spread the virus. If the virus is not under control come the time for the Olympics to start, some countries may end up pulling their teams out of the competition. The BBC news reports that Kenya, in particular, is considering drawing their team from competition, especially because of the birth defects. As this outcome would be viewed quite negatively, efforts are being focused on controlling the virus and developing a cure. A vaccination does not yet exist for the Zika virus. President Obama is seeking $1.8 billion dollars to be allocated for research.