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Zika Virus hits Pandemic Levels

Zika Virus hits Pandemic Levels
March 28
10:49 2016

Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that broke out in Brazil last spring, has hit “pandemic” levels, reports the National Institutes of Health. The virus will “continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found,” warns the World Health Organization.

imageThe disease is transferred solely by the bite of the Aedes mosquito (pictured above) and has been discovered to cause microcephaly (a fatal birth defect where the infant is born with a tiny head). Brazil has seen over 4,000 babies born with this fatal condition since last October. 

Meanwhile, the CDC has issued a level 2 travel alert for anyone traveling to nearly two dozen countries – mostly in the Caribbean and South and Central America. American Airlines and United Airlines are issuing refunds for pregnant travelers who have purchased tickets to countries in which the virus is prevalent.

The frightening virus has already swept through more than 20 countries and now threatens to infiltrate the United States. There have been 31 cases in 11 states so far, but all of them occurred after the individual returned from another country.

The WHO updated it’s warning this Thursday, announcing that Zika is “spreading explosively” and could cause up to four million infections by the end of 2016.

There is no treatment and no vaccine. The only way to ensure safety is to avoid the Aedes mosquito, which may be impossible for millions of people across the globe.

“Questions abound,” says WHO leader Margaret Chan. “We need to get some answers quickly.” The World Health Organization plans to meet next Monday to plan its response to this tiny killer.

“You have multiple countries in South America and in the Caribbean, so by anybody’s definition that would be considered a pandemic,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. “If you have this much Zika in South America and the Caribbean, sooner or later we’re going to see a local transmission [in the US],” he told CBS News.

The United States has a huge advantage when it comes to controlling mosquitoes: winter. “Most of the United States goes through a real winter and that’s very, very important in containing mosquito-borne viruses,” explains Dr. Fauci.

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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