JUN 25, 2016 11:42 AM PDT

What is the Zika Virus?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
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The Zika virus was first recognized in 1947 in rhesus monkeys in Uganda. Then, it was then identified in 1995 in humans.

The virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue and yellow fever. The mosquitos originated in tropical and subtropical zones.

Zika symptoms include conjunctivitis, fever, joint pain, joint pain, headache, and rash. The illness is usually mild and lasts for 2 to 7 days. The disease often goes undiagnosed because about 80 percent of infected people don't show symptoms. Hospitalization is uncommon.

The Zika virus also causes microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare birth defect where a baby's head is significantly smaller than it should be. In the large majority of cases, they are likely to experience a range of problems such as developmental delays and vision problems. The infant's brain may not have properly developed and their brains sometimes stop growing after their first couple years. While it can be treated, there's no cure.

When a woman is infected with Zika during her pregnancy, her child is likely to have microcephaly. Researchers in Brazil found, in some cases, traces of the Zika virus in the amniotic fluid and brain issue.

The best way to keep yourself safe from the virus is to keep yourself safe from mosquitos.
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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