A virus, which has serious effects on pregnant women, is spreading throughout Latin America and the Caribbean Islands. While the virus is not fatal to pregnant women, unborn children are developing birth defects and, in some cases, dying right after birth or in the womb.
The Zika virus is causing chaos for pregnant women in Latin America, especially Brazil.
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The virus, like dengue fever, is transmitted by mosquitos, not person-to-person contact.
— Loop Suriname (@LoopSuriname) December 29, 2015
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Symptoms usually include a low fever, an itchy rash that form all over the body, pain behind the eyes, headaches and joint pains. Symptoms can take up to 10 days to show. If you’re not pregnant, the virus usually doesn’t have any serious effects.
The Zika virus is a nightmare for unborn babies. If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, her fetus may develop microcephaly.
— André Picard (@picardonhealth) January 1, 2016
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Brazil saw a jump in cases of this rare neurological condition from 147 cases in 2014 to more than 2,400 cases in 2015, prompting the government to (unofficially) advise Brazilian families to hold off on pregnancies.
Microcephaly is a condition which causes incomplete brain growth in the womb.
Pesquisadores levantam a suspeita, que pedem para ser investigada pelo Ministério da Saúde, de que a microcefalia pode estar ligada ao vírus da rubéola. A suspeita da rubéola, e não o zika-vírus como causa da microcefalia, explica por que só no Brasil se registra esse tipo de deformidade. #microcefalia #pernambuco #saúde #zikavirus
A photo posted by Diário do Poder (@diariodopoder) on
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In December 2015, 900 cases of microcephaly were reported in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, setting off a state of emergency. “Here in [the Brazilian state of] Pernambuco, we’re talking about a generation of babies that’s going to be affected,” Angela Rocha, a pediatric infectologist at Hospital Alemão Oswaldo Cruz, told CNN.
Children born with microcephaly have one thing in common: their heads are smaller than healthy children.
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The Washington Post reported that 29 babies in Brazil died from the microcephaly in 2015. Autopsies performed on some of the babies proved the link of the Zika virus and microcephaly.
The first transmission case in Puerto Rico was reported in December 2015, bringing the virus closer to the US and proving that it can spread.
— Tabby News (@TabbyNews) January 6, 2016
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The first case of a child born with the microcephaly in the US was reported in Hawaii this week.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 18, 2016
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But the Zika virus was contracted when the baby’s mother was still pregnant and living in Brazil at the start of the outbreak in May 2015. “There’s no indication at this point that there’s any Zika virus circulating in Hawaii,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters. “But I think its important for us to understand that there are going to be imported cases of Zika to the United States and we won’t be surprised if we start to see some local transmission of the virus.”
There have been no local transmissions of the virus in Hawaii or the US, but experts are mindful of the warmer months in tropical areas like Florida and Hawaii.
— Blog Fralda Cheia (@Fralda_Cheia) December 29, 2015
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The mosquito that carries the dengue fever is the same mosquito to carry the Zika virus. Hawaii is currently grappling with a dengue outbreak.
The fast spread of the virus led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue travel alerts to all people traveling to Mexico, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.
The travel alerts are at level 2 out of 3, urging travelers to take extra precaution when visiting any of the affected countries.