The Zika Virus Outbreak


In recent news, there has been a Zika virus outbreak. This virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of this virus are a fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. At first they’re are usually mild symptoms that last several days to a week. People that live in Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean or Pacific territories, and central and South America are at risk for an increased spread of the Zika virus.

The Zika virus poses a very great risk, and threat, to pregnant women. Pregnant women who are infected with the virus can have babies with birth defects. The babies are born with abnormally small heads. Pregnant women can protect themselves by wearing long sleeved clothes, and using insect repellent in the daytime, according to

There are also cases in which the virus was spread through a blood transfusion and sexual contact. CNN states that the Zika virus is closely related to dengue and yellow fever, so it may cross react with antibody tests for those viruses, which makes it harder to create a vaccine for it.  The Zika virus is detected using a blood or tissue sample from the first week of the infection, then it is sent to an advanced laboratory.

In Brazil a new way of possibly helping the Zika outbreak has been created. In the New York Times it states, “Every weekday at 7 a.m a van drives slowly through the Piracicaba carrying a precious cargo” in this cargo are mosquitoes. More than 100,000 of them are dumped from plastic containers through the van’s window. These mosquitoes have been genetically engineered to pass a deadly gene to their babies. These mosquitoes were genetically engineered by Oxitec, which is a biotechnology company that develops genetically modified insects that help with insect control.

The Zika virus was brought by a couple from Haiti to Australia. The Daily Mail reports that, “Two Sydney locals have been diagnosed with the Zika virus after returning from travels in the Caribbean following a global outbreak of the mosquito- borne virus.” Reports also say that mosquitoes capable of carrying the virus were detected at the Sydney international Airport. Those that are planning to travel to countries with Zika virus, should reschedule.

The impact on the U.S. is yet to be know.  However, President Obama has requested 1.3 billion from Congress to combat the disease, and Florida has already issued a state of emergency to prepare for the worst.  This is truly a story worth monitoring.