By Justice Colmon
In February 2016, The World Health Organization declared Zika virus to be a global public emergency, estimating that four million people could be infected by the end of this year.
Zika is a mosquito transmitted disease that can affect all genders through animal bites or unprotected sex from a person that is infected by Zika, but has never shown signs of having symptoms.
Since it is believed that Zika is the link between infections during pregnancy and birth defects, it is advised by the Centers for Disease Control that both men and women use protection throughout the pregnancy.
“I’m seven months pregnant so it scares me when they say, stay out of Zika covered areas, because it’s like where can I go?” said Azia Marie, 20, who is expecting her first child.
Zika was discovered in 1947, in the Zika forest and is common in Africa, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Since an outbreak occurred in Brazil last May, more than 39 countries in America have reported Zika transmission. Zika virus transmission has been documented in Miami, Fla. and three U.S. territories.
According to the Department of Health, the Zika virus has caused a rise in the number of people who have Guillain-Barre syndrome, a sickness of the nervous system causing weakness of the arm, legs, and affecting the muscles that control breathing.
There are no medicines or vaccines to help treat or prevent Zika virus, but people who have already been infected, may be protected from infections in the future, according to Medline Plus.
“Zika virus is like any other virus that some people get while others won’t,” said Regina Yentch, 37, mother of five and employee at the Treasure Island Academy Daycare. “Right now it’s a big deal, but it will eventually pass so I have no fear when it comes to Zika.”
The CDC is currently testing samples for Zika and providing laboratories with diagnostic tests, such as how long Zika remains in the bodily fluids of people with Zika and the time in which it can be passed to sex partners.
“I know it can affect everyone, but my biggest concern is the fact that it can destroy a women’s respiratory system.” said Jasmine Yentch, 17, daughter of Regina Yentch and a student at Academy Park high school.
According to the CDC, there has not been any confirmation of blood transfusion transmission cases in the U.S., but there have been many reports of these cases in Brazil which are being investigated. Nearly 3 percent of blood donors tested positive for Zika during the French Polynesian outbreak and in previous cases.
The CDC is teaching healthcare providers how to identify Zika and advising travelers to wear protection during sexual intercourse and to use EPA approved insect repellent while in a Zika infested area.
“I admit it is a frightening disease and many people can suffer from it, but it’s kind of hard to be surprised when there are new diseases popping up here and there,” said Tameka Mallory, 43, a cardiology office assistant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The only advice I have is to not panic and keep living life to the fullest because it’s not life threatening.”
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