Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2016 Contents How dangerous is
a Zika virus infection?
Only about one in five people
who get the virus break into
symptoms, and they re usually
mild. They can include mild fever,
rashes, pink eye and joint pain.
It s the potential longer range
effects that are slowly causing
concern --- like this new fear that
the virus infecting a pregnant
woman could be connected to the
baby suffering from the micro-
cephaly birth defect.
Researchers are also looking
into a possible link between Zika
and another neural disorder called
Guillan-Barre syndrome, the CDC
GBS is a rare disorder that
causes the body s immune system
to turn on its nerves. It can start
off with weakness and tingling,
the Mayo Clinic says. But it can
eventually become a medical
emergency, paralysing the entire
"Most people recover from
Guillain-Barre syndrome, though
some may experience lingering
effects from it, such as weakness,
numbness or fatigue," the Mayo
In Hawaii, which has a climate
more agreeable to the mosquitoes,
health officials are telling citizens
to pay attention to CDC travel
recommendations and, at home,
to double down.
"Mosquitoes can carry serious
diseases, as we know too well
with our current dengue outbreak
and it is imperative that we all
Fight the Bite by reducing mos-
quito breeding areas, avoiding
places with mosquitoes, and
applying repellant as needed."
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, January 19, 2016
A Hawaii newborn born with microcephaly, an
unusually small head, had been infected with the
Zika virus. The case could be the first one reported
in the United States linking the birth defect with
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
confirmed that the baby recently born in Oahu was
infected in the past.
"The mother likely had Zika infection when she
was residing in Brazil in May 2015 and her newborn
acquired the infection in the womb," Hawaii s health
"Neither the baby nor the mother are infectious,
and there was never a risk of transmission in
The Zika virus has been in the news a lot lately
in connection with microcephaly. Here are a few
points to help you better understand it.
Why are we hearing so much about Zika?
Until recently, the Zika virus was not widely
associated with the congenital brain condition.
But in the past four months, microcephaly cases
in Brazil rocketed to 3,500, and 46 babies died. For
comparison, there were only 147 cases altogether
Health officials feared the jump may have some-
thing to do with pregnant women getting infected
with Zika virus, which had also been spreading in
Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC advised
pregnant women last week to put off travel to more
than a dozen Central American, South American
and Caribbean countries, including Puerto Rico,
where the virus is currently spreading.
Researchers have not definitively nailed down
the connection between microcephaly and the virus
and need more studies to figure out the relationship,
the CDC says. But the jump in microcephaly cases
is alarming, and researchers are focused on the
likelihood that there is actually a connection.
"That s a pandemic in progress," said Dr Anthony
Fauci, director of The National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases. "It isn t as if it s turning
around and dying out, it s getting worse and worse
as the days go by."
What is microcephaly?
Microcephaly is the underdevelopment of an
infant s head, brain or both that usually occurs dur-
ing pregnancy but can also occur shortly after birth.
Until recently, a Zika virus infection was not com-
monly thought of as a possible cause.
The condition has also been attributed to prob-
lems in the formation of the skull, genetic issues,
Down syndrome or a lack of oxygen to the brain,
says the Mayo Clinic. Drugs, alcohol and exposure
to some chemicals during pregnancy can also con-
tribute to an embryo suffering from microcephaly.
But there are also viral infections that can cause
it, such as rubella and chickenpox.
How does the Zika virus spread?
The Zika virus is usually transmitted by the Aedes
aegypti mosquito --- a common culprit in infecting
humans with viruses. The same insect passes on
the viruses that cause dengue fever and yellow
fever, the CDC says.
If the mosquito bites one infected person, it can
carry the virus to the next person and transfer the
The Aedes mosquito lives mostly in subtropical
and tropical areas but can survive in other climates,
too. It usually bites indoors, during the daytime,
and prefers humans.
If pregnant women have to travel to areas where
Zika is spreading, say, for a family emergency or
unavoidable business, the CDC advises that they
take common precautions to keep mosquitoes away,
like using repellant or wearing long sleeves and
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Protecting against Zika virus
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