Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The "Zika Virus Scare Remains. No Cure In Sight!" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Back in February I published a story about the Zika virus and the global health emergency it had created.  Seems that women who are pregnant and are infected with the mosquito carried Zika virus have a chance to have a baby with birth defects.  The virus can be passed to the fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth.  A man who has the virus can spread it to others through sex whereas it does not appear the women can spread the virus through sex.  Back in February Carol and I were concerned about the virus due to a list of infected countries being published and the fact that we were going to make a trip to St. Martin which was on that list.  I read about problems if we contact the virus such as a mild illness that could last up to a week, fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain and headaches.  Back in February there were very few cases of the virus in the United States, but as more people traveled to infected countries, the fear of the virus reaching the United States grew.  Well, Carol and I spent our vacation in April into May on the island of St. Martin and did receive several mosquito bites, as we always do, but we seem to have bypassed the disease.  I did read, while on the island, a report in the Caribbean issue of the Daily Herald that all mosquitoes do not carry the Zika virus.  
There are two types of mosquitoes that can carry Zika and both types are aggressive biters which are most active during the day.  They breed, as most mosquitoes do, in small amounts of stagnant water, and live both indoors and outdoors.  Aedes aegypti, aka the yellow fever mosquito, is best at transmitting the virus but has not been found in my home state of Pennsylvania in the past decade.  The Aedes albopictus, aka the Asian tiger mosquito, is a striped black-and-white mosquito and has been found in some parts of the state this year.  As of now there is no vaccine or treatment for the Zika Virus.  If I were a female and was pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, I think I would be worried.  Even if I lived in the US.  
I know the risk is slight in Pennsyl- vania, but ...  Then I read that the risk of getting the virus in Rio, Brazil where the Olympics are being held soon, is "almost zero."  Yeah, right!  What do you expect them to say if their economy depends on this huge event.  I heard that one of the NBC Today Show female announcers has refused to head to Rio to cover the Olympics due to a pregnancy.  Smart girl!  UN's World Health Organization, which monitors disease outbreaks and the performance of health systems around the world, officially declared the Zika virus as a public health emergency less than six months ago.  Since that time between 400,000 and 1.3 million cases has been discovered across South, Central and North America and is rapidly growing into an epidemic threat.  Carol or I may have had the virus while on St. Martin, but we displayed no symptoms of the disease.  We are not in the high risk group of those who are pregnant or will be pregnant soon, so we thought it reasonable to take our trip.  We lucked out, but if I were in a high risk category, I don't know what I would have done.  Here's hoping they can conquer the disease soon and create a vaccine for protection.  I would gladly make the trip to the doctor for my shot.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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