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    8 Things Everyone Should Know About The Zika Virus

    The Zika virus has made major headlines throughout 2016, and it's no surprise why. This disease made its first appearance in South America, when the rate of newborns with microcephaly dramatically increased over a brief period of time. The first confirmed case was discovered in May 2015 in Brazil, and since then, has spread faster than we could have ever imagined, eventually becoming an epidemic in Florida and other areas of the United States. On February 1st, 2016, the Zika virus was declared a matter of international concern and a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. This virus continues to spread at an exponential rate and people around the world are growing more and more concerned for their loved ones, especially women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Read on to discover eight Zika Virus myths and facts Florida residents need to know!

    8 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
    MYTH: The Zika virus can only be transmitted by mosquitos.

    The virus is widely spread through mosquito bites, but while this is significantly less common, Zika can also be sexually transmitted. The Center for Disease Control identified one case in Texas where someone became infected after having intercourse with another person who had recently traveled overseas. Fortunately, the CDC has announced that condoms are a successful preventative method against infection.

    FACT: There is currently no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus.

    Sadly, this is true. Researchers are surely working all hours to accelerate the development of an effective treatment, but there is no proven or recommended antiviral medication at present for treating Zika.

    FACT: Microcephaly doesn't only develop as a result of the Zika virus.

    Microcephaly can develop on unborn fetuses as a result of pregnant women contracting the Zika virus...but it can also occur as a result of many other things. Some common causes of babies with microcephaly include brain injuries during labor, genetic abnormalities, and fetal infections such as cytomegalovirus and German measles. Microcephaly cases are also a potential result of expecting mothers who are malnourished, diabetic, or consuming alcohol while pregnant.

    MYTH: It is not safe for a woman to get pregnant after visiting a country that has had a Zika outbreak.

    If a woman has recently traveled overseas, she should of course discuss this with her doctor beforehand. However, if the virus is contracted, it typically only remains in the bloodstream for approximately one week. The virus does sustain itself in semen longer though, so if the woman is traveling with her significant other, it's worth being extra careful and waiting for more time to elapse. As long as substantial time has elapsed after traveling, it should be safe to conceive.

    MYTH: Anyone who develops the Zika virus will immediately show symptoms.

    One of the reasons why Zika is such a scary thing is because only one in five who contract the virus will show any symptoms, such as redness in the eyes, pain in the joints, and fever. The rest of the cases will go undetected unless otherwise tested for the infection. However, at present, there is no readily accessible means to identify whether or not someone has the infection. A tissue or blood sample must be taken and sent out for advanced molecular testing in order to detect it.

    MYTH: Only pregnant women can contract the Zika virus, right?

    Anyone can be affected by the Zika virus - but for anyone who isn't a pregnant woman, the worst symptoms would be similar to a mild bout of flu-like symptoms. That said, the Zika virus has gained international attention specifically for pregnant women because contracting the virus has been directly linked to a major increase in microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by a small brain and head size for babies.

    MYTH: There is no way to prevent getting infected with the Zika Virus.

    There are several ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting bit by mosquitoes and infected with the Zika Virus. Mosquito repellents, foggers, citronella candles and other mosquito control methods can all be helpful in protecting you and your family from getting bitten and infected. In addition, be sure to clear any standing water near your residence, and wear protective layers of clothing when spending time outdoors. 

    MYTH: The Zika virus is nowhere to be found in America thus far.

    Unfortunately, the Zika virus has made its way to the United States, and new cases are popping up all over the country. So far, the most cases have been discovered in states closer to the water, with 28 cases in Florida, 17 in New York, and 13 in Texas. Cases of the virus have appeared in at least half of America's states thus far. First cases of the virus have most recently been announced in Chicago, Illinois and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.