Officials in four Latin American and Caribbean nations have warned women to avoid pregnancy amid concerns over an illness causing severe birth defects.
That was a BBC  headline pertaining to this new threat to they ever precious newborn.It is said to have arrived they UK and has prompted Brazil to warn pregnant women to sit out this year’s Olympics over fears about its deleterious effects.But what is Zika virus and why is 2016 suddenly becoming the year of this deadly virus?According to wikipedia Zika virus ( ZIKV) is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family and the Flavivirus genus, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. In humans, it causes a mild illness known as Zika fever , Zika, or Zika disease, which since the 1950s has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia , then to Easter Island and in 2015 to Central America the Caribbean, and South America as the ongoing Zika virus in the Americas (2015 – present) and is now considered pandemic.The illness is like a mild form of dengue fever, is treated by rest,and cannot be prevented by drugs or vaccines.Zika virus is transmitted by daytime-active mosquitoes and has been isolated from a number of species in the genus Aedes , such as A. aegypti , and arboreal mosquitoes such as A. africanus, A. apicoargenteus , A. furcifer , A. hensilli, A. luteocephalus , and A. vitattus. Studies show that the extrinsic incubation period in mosquitoes is about 10 days.The vertebrate hosts of the virus are primarily monkeys and humans.Common symptoms of infection with the virus include mild headaches, maculopapular rash, fever, malaise, pink eye , and joint pains. The first well-documented case of Zika virus was described in 1964, began with a mild headache, and progressed to a maculopapular rash, fever, and back pain. Within two days, the rash started fading, and within three days, the fever resolved and only the rash remained.
Data suggest that newborns of mothers who had Zika virus infection during the first trimester of pregnancy are at an increased risk for microcephaly.Since December 2015, it has been suspected (but not proven) that a transplacental infection of the fetus may lead to microcephaly and brain damage.So thats were we are today.They BBC further reports that Brazil said the number of babies born with suspected microcephaly – or abnormally small heads – had reached nearly 4,000 since October.
Meanwhile, US health authorities have warned pregnant women to avoid travelling to more than 20 countries in the Americas and beyond, where Zika cases have been registered.Its a challenge for women because it sounds absurd to tell women to delay parturition over a virus that few people even know about.
In Colombia, more than 13,500 cases have been reported.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued initial travel warnings to pregnant women last week, adding eight more places to the list on Friday. The warnings now extend to:
Central and South America: Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela
Caribbean: Barbados, Saint Martin, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe
Oceania : Samoa
Africa: Cape Verde


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