by Lorenzo Burgio
The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquito bites and sexual contact and causes microcephaly in newborns, is rapidly becoming a larger global concern and needs a priority to nations world-wide.
“Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth,” stated the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Microcephaly causes newborns to have a below-average head size and brain-growth rate. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated to BBC, rapid research, containment and aid to individuals suffering or at risk of the Zika virus is necessary.
According to the official White House website, President Obama and his administration recently asked Congress for $1.8 billion, “In emergency funding to enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to the Zika virus, both domestically and internationally.”
The growing concern comes from the virus’ close proximity to the U.S. Pan American Health Organizationclaimed there are currently 26 countries and territories where the virus is being transmitted through mosquitoes in the Americas. This number is worrisome, not because the virus’ close nature, but because it took this many countries to suffer for global powers to take action.
Even though no cases of Zika transmitted through mosquitos in the U.S. have been documented, there is still a concern as warmer months approach and mosquitos travel – especially in the southern part of the country.
The virus can also be transmitted sexually and this has breached the country’s borders. The CDC recently added an aspect to their Zika prevention guidelines. It states for all pregnant women to be very cautious who they have sex with has not traveled to an area where Zika is circulating. As the Zika virus only stays in the bloodstream for about a week, it is still unsure how long it stays in semen.
The CDC’s statement came after the Zika virus was spread through sexual contact to an individual in Dallas, Texas. According to CNN, a pregnant woman had sex with a man who recently traveled to Venezuela and contracted the virus from a mosquito bite.
The reasons for prevention and aid of the Zika virus to be top priority are endless. Let’s keep in mind the 2016 Olympics are going to be held in Rio, Brazil – currently they have around 4,000 cases of the Zika virus documented. It seems quite obvious the almost 70,000 Carnival going in Rio de Janeiro didn’t help contain the virus either.
Congress needs to provide this funding – quickly. The need to treat and prevent is at an all-time high. Multiple European medical organizations are currently working on various research and cures, according to BBC. A virus that is spread globally with such ease by mosquitos, needs to be a top priority world-wide.