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Zika: A New Health Culprit

Scientists discovered a mosquito-borne virus called Zika, named after a forest in Uganda where it originated. The culprit for this is the Aedes-aegypti mosquito. 

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Zika virus is now causing an alarming health crisis. This is known to cause microcephaly which is characterized as abnormally small heads in infants. Microcephaly is an incurable condition and the infants might also not survive or if they do, they will have to face intellectual development impairment for the rest of their lives. This is the reason why emphasis on precaution to avoiding mosquito bites is advised. Even postponing pregnancy is suggested especially in areas where Zika virus is spreading. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an updated list of areas where Zika virus transmission is occurring such as Mexico and Brazil. Reports have also said that some cases were already even diagnosed in the United States. So as the list of CDC for affected countries goes on, it is not surprising to expect cases to increase.

Climate change even may play a role in causing spread of Zika virus. Drought, for example, can provide mosquito habitats since this causes people to hoard more water in containers. If more water containers are used, the chances of mosquito-breeding areas increase. Increased temperatures may also make mosquitoes multiply more quickly.

Since there is no vaccine yet for Zika, it is important that simple precautions are taken. Wearing of long sleeves, long pants, and full coverage shoes, may help repel mosquitoes. Mosquito repellents can also be used. But make sure to pick the right one. CDC has a recommendation of choosing repellents with DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus but avoiding those with peppermint oil, citronella oil, or soybean oil. However, don’t wear these repellents under the clothes since this won’t allow for evaporation causing chemical accumulation on the fabric. It can also be helpful to spray some on the feet and ankles since Aedes mosquitoes are attracted to those areas. It is advisable to change standing water every week as well.

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