FEB 05, 2016 11:01 AM PST

Should You Be Worried About The Zika Virus?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Symptoms include conjunctivitis, fever, joint pain, and rash. The illness is usually mild and lasts for 2 to 7 days. About 80 percent of infected people don't show symptoms, so the disease often goes undiagnosed. Hospitalization is uncommon and death is extremely rare.

HOW IS IT SPREAD?
The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue and yellow fever. They were originally found in tropical and subtropical zones. Because there is no vaccine or treatment available, the best way to avoid getting the disease is to avoid mosquito bites. The Zika virus was also recently found to be sexually transmitted.

WHY SHOULD PREGNANT WOMAN BE CONCERNED?
Microcephaly is a rare birth defect where a baby's head is significantly smaller than the heads of other infants because their brains did not fully develop. Since the virus arrived in Brazil in late 2014, microcephaly cases have increased 20-fold. Brazilian researchers have examined infants with microcephaly and have found, in some cases, traces of the Zika virus in the amniotic fluid and brain issue. Women living in areas affected by Zika have been advised to hold off on getting pregnant.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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