The unlucky few with symptoms have little to complain about: unlike other mosquito-borne viruses contracted overseas (dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, or typhoid, for instance), Zika manifests itself with nothing more than joint pains, rashes, or a fever.
For the viruses associated with the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the CDC recommends starting a public education campaign so residents in an area with an outbreak use insect repellent and cover their skin as much as possible. "It would require an Aedes mosquito biting a Zika infected person and then biting others".
The move comes as Brazil desperately looks to raise awareness of the virus and encourage people to combat the mosquito. No cases of microcephaly or Guillain-Barre suspected of being linked to Zika.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika.
Officials say there is a risk of rare and more significant impacts of the disease for pregnant women. "In addition, we are urging everyone, especially pregnant women, to check health travel advisories before leaving the United States and to take preventive measures when traveling in affected areas of the world".
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Zika is not a new disease, but a current outbreak in Brazil that's been linked to birth defects has created increased awareness and worry about it. Recent cases have been confirmed in NY state, as well as Arkansas, Virginia, and California.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said yesterday she had asked a summit of the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to launch "cooperative action in the fight against the Zika virus". Thanks to mass events that happened on a global scale in over the last two years (think: the World Cup), travelers passing through Brazil-possibly with bug bites from Zika-carrying mosquitoes-could have brought the disease to western hemisphere, where it had never been recorded until about 15 months ago. The Zika virus is known to transmit from pregnant women to unborn babies and cause serious birth defects in the brain.
A municipal worker sprays insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus at the Imbiribeira neighborhood in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016.
"It is far better", said the Georgetown University public health expert, "to be overprepared than to wait until a Zika epidemic spins out of control".
Four similar cases were reported in NY, as well as single cases in California, Minnesota, Virginia and Arkansas among people who had traveled to the affected region. Since the Zika outbreak, an abnormally high number of babies have been born with microcephaly, which is a birth defect that causes an underdeveloped cranium.
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"Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively".
U.S.-based researchers Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin had called for just such a meeting in an article published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, criticizing the World Health Organization for not stepping up sooner.
This has led officials in Colombia, Jamaica and El Salvador to advise women not get pregnant so long as the Zika threat remains.
Anybody who travels to a country, or lives in the a country, where the virus is found is at risk for infection, according to the CDC.
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