Zika Virus: What You Need to Know & How to Protect Your Family

In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency on the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects in babies.

The first major outbreak of the Zika virus, which was transmitted via mosquitoes, was detected in May 2015 in Brazil. Since then, the virus has spread its presence in more than 20 countries in Latin America, including Costa Rica and Jamaica.

In Southeast Asia, a small number of cases have been detected in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Malaysia and Thailand in recent years.

One of the main concerns over the virus lies in its possible link to microcephaly, a condition which causes babies to be born with unusually small heads, and in the majority of cases, a damaged brain. A large number of microcephaly cases have been found in Brazil, although researchers have yet to confirm that the Zika virus causes the condition.

But how dangerous is the Zika virus and what can you do to protect yourself and your family from the potential risks?

Read on for key facts on the Zika virus and some tips on dealing with the outbreak:

What is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, and is related to dengue and chikungunya.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda back in 1947 through a monitoring network of sylvalatic yellow fever. The virus was then found in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

How does a mosquito transmit Zika?

zika virus

How mosquitoes spread the Zika virus (Sources: Dr. W. Augustine Dunn; Oxitec; The Anatomical Life of the Mosquito, R. E. Snodgrass)

 

Areas with the Zika virus

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Zika virus outbreaks typically occurs in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. However, in May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert on the first confirmed Zika virus case in Brazil – and as of February 2016, outbreaks of the Zika virus are occurring in many countries around the world.

In light of the current situation, the Zika virus will continue to spread worldwide, and it will be challenging to determine how and where the virus will spread in the near future.

To ensure your safety and that of your family, kindly refer to CDC’s Travel Notice Information to stay updated on the latest affected areas around the world.

What are the signs and symptoms of the Zika virus, and what precautionary measure should you take if you are currently pregnant? More on this on the next page…

 

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