The Zika virus, which is a condition that affects pregnant women and the best way to avoid it is to not get pregnant. To this end, several countries, especially in the Americas and Brazil in particular have been sensitising its citizens on the essence of avoiding mosquito bites and not getting pregnant. In El Salvador, the government has started advising women not to consider not getting pregnant for the next two years.
Brazil is the country that is worst hit by the virus, and health officials have said they plan to deploy 220,000 members of the military on a single day in February to sensitise the populace about the risks of mosquitoes.
“We know perfectly well that we will only be victorious in this fight if we count on the contributions of our people,” Health Minister Marcelo Castro told reporters this week, per LA Times.
He was critical of the country’s past efforts to control mosquito-borne illnesses: “We’ve had the mosquito here in Brazil for three decades and we are losing badly.”
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention has already issued a warning to pregnant women against travelling to Zika-affected regions.
Health officials in the United States are monitoring for Zika in mosquitoes and people and at some point could advise pregnant women to stay inside or sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets. Cases have already been identified in the continental United States, including California.
It is unclear how the Zika virus, which popped up in Africa during the 1950s, and later in the Pacific Islands, found its way to Brazil; but one theory suggests it could be during the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil where hundreds of thousands of visitors found their way into the country. During the last FIFA World Cup held in Brazil, participants as well as visitors from every part of the world had converged on the South American country to witness the event that takes place every four years.
Zika is related to dengue, yellow fever and the West Nile virus, and can cause fever, rash and pain. However, reports have shown that the virus poses more danger to pregnant women.
Reports also say that until the recent outbreak, there were no traces of the virus being linked to birth defects. Though, there are other causes of the disease, such as chemicals, bacteria and radiation; there is a strong evidence to merit health warnings.
It was recently discovered that the Zika virus can pass through the placenta from a mother to a fetus, according to discovery made by researchers at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil.
To date, close to 3,900 cases of the virus has been reported in Brazil since its first known transmission in the South American country in May. The brain abnormalities that are part of the disease can cause serious developmental problems or even lead to death.