Zika Virus Poses Threat

Makenna Millham, Staff Writer

An increasingly loud buzzing ricochets off the walls of an ear cavity. Hands swat at the sound, and rightfully so. Soon itchy bites are scratched at. Then joints ache, fevers climb and rashes spread.

Most of the time, mosquito bites are no big deal. But for those living and traveling to the Pacific Islands, South America and Central America, bites are more worrying than a pesky itch. Currently, the Zika virus is increasingly becoming a pandemic in specific parts of the world.

With spring break on the horizon, many people have vacations booked to various tropical places. Many spring-breaker hotspots such as Mexico and Costa Rica have reported transmissions.

Zika is a relative of Dengue fever and Japanese fever. It’s name is derived from the Ugandan forest where it was first reported. The first recent report of Zika occurred in November of 2015 in Mexico.

So who is at risk? While anyone can contract the virus through mosquito bites, those most at risk are those who don’t even experience the bites themselves; pregnant women who contract Zika can pass it on to their fetus, potentially leading to microepalphy.

Mircroepalphy is when a baby’s head is smaller than anticipated, meaning the brain’s growth has slowed. Individuals with microepalphy risk seizures, problems with balances, intellectual challenges, hearing loss and vision problems.

With the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, many people run the risk of contracting the virus. The Paralympics will follow that September offering more potential victims.