JAN 27, 2016 3:49 PM PST

What's the deal with Zika virus?

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
People are talking about Zika virus, but they don’t have nice things to say.

Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in a monkey and is named for the Zika forest in Uganda.  It is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that spreads dengue virus, but few human cases were reported prior to 2007 - probably because nearly 80% of people are asymptomatic.  For those that do experience symptoms, they are generally mild and include skin rash, joint pain, and fever.
 
Zika virus may cause microcephaly.

So, what’s the big deal?  A recent outbreak of Zika in Brazil has infected anywhere from 500,000 to 1.5 million people and researchers think the virus has serious effects on unborn babies.  According to Emory University’s Uriel Kitron, “Zika is a game-changer.  It appears that this virus may pass through a woman's placenta and impact her unborn child. That's about as scary as it gets”.

Just a few months after the Zika outbreak, microcephaly cases in Brazil increased from just 150 in 2014 to nearly 3,500 as of October.  What’s more, Zika was detected in five newborns that died from microcephaly and in two placentas from miscarried babies with the condition.

The human toll of this virus is quickly coming into focus.  According to Kitron, “the microcephaly cases are a personal tragedy for the families whose babies are affected. They will need much care and support, some of them for decades. The costs to the public health system will be enormous, and Brazil was already experiencing an economic crisis”.
 

Source: Science Daily
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
NOV 29, 2020
Microbiology
Modeling the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance
NOV 29, 2020
Modeling the Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to standard antibiotics, for a variety of reasons. Scientists ar ...
DEC 07, 2020
Microbiology
Ocean Microbes Live At the Boiling Point
DEC 07, 2020
Ocean Microbes Live At the Boiling Point
There are some very extreme environments on our planet, and it seems that microbes have been able to colonize many of th ...
DEC 31, 2020
Microbiology
A Single-Celled Organism That Can Learn
DEC 31, 2020
A Single-Celled Organism That Can Learn
Physarum polycephalum is an unusual single-celled organism that can grow to be several square feet in size. These massiv ...
JAN 12, 2021
Microbiology
Connecting Gut Microbes, Diet, and Health
JAN 12, 2021
Connecting Gut Microbes, Diet, and Health
Advances in genetic technologies have revolutionized biomedical research in recent years. One example is the discovery t ...
JAN 18, 2021
Microbiology
Bacteria in Sediment is Likely Accelerating Greenland's Meltdown
JAN 18, 2021
Bacteria in Sediment is Likely Accelerating Greenland's Meltdown
For decades, scientists have been sounding the alarm about rising carbon dioxide levels in our planet's atmosphere, and ...
FEB 11, 2021
Microbiology
Investigating the Microbial Life of Sourdough, International Bread of Mystery
FEB 11, 2021
Investigating the Microbial Life of Sourdough, International Bread of Mystery
Sourdough bread has a unique taste because it's not made with years from a packet; it's made with wild yeast that gr ...
Loading Comments...