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What is Zika virus and how can we prevent it?

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With the coming 2016 Summer Olympics in August, the olympic commission in Brazil is now trying to stop the spread of the Zika virus that may harm not only the athletes but all the tourists to watch the biggest sports event in the world.

The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. In May 2015, the outbreak of the virus in Brazil led to reports that pregnant women contracted with the infectious virus have poor pregnancy outcomes and babies having birth defects.

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Symptoms of this disease are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

  • These mosquitoes lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.
  • They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.
  • Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus.
  • Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

For pregnant women,

  • A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.
  • It is possible that Zika virus could be passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy.
  • To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.

U.S. health officials issued interim guidelines forn all health care professionals in the United States caring for infants born to mothers who traveled or lived in an area with Zika virus transmission during pregnancy.

Hoping that other health officials will continue to follow the said guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Zika virus is already present in 21 of the 55 countries and territories across the Americas.

Before the 2015 outbreak, Zika virus was already occured in the Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands region.

Here are some tips to prevent the spreading of Zika virus:

  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Use insect repellents (repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.

Unfortunately, there are no available vaccine yet that exists to prevent Zika virus disease.

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