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Tracing Zika Back to The Very Beginning

Posted: May 23, 2016 – Mosquito Squad

Researchers have been trying to figure out how the Zika virus has spread from Africa and Asia over to the Americas.

Scientists have confirmed that Zika causes birth defects, and also can cause nerve disorders in children and adults.  The virus hasn’t always acted that way.  Learning how and why the virus mutated could be key to figuring out why it’s so dangerous before it comes through the Americas and over to the Mediterranean.

Zika was first discovered in Uganda in the 1940’s, but it was 5 years after that since the first human cause of the virus was reported in the region.   ‘It is challenging to state definitively who the first patient is whoever contracted the virus or brought it to a new country,’ said Ann Powers, the acting chief of the Arboviral Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up until the 1980’s, humans that contracted Zika only had mild illnesses.  It wasn’t until 2007 that a large outbreak was recorded, and awareness began to spread.  Up to three-quarters of the island of Yap were infected.  Zika then began to move across the Pacific Ocean, and as it moved, it seemed to change.  Scientist believe that Zika may have traveled from French Polynesia to Rio de Janerio during a World Championship canoe race in August 2014.

How_the_Zika_Virus_SpreadLast year in Brazil, doctors began to notice a rise microephaly, a birth defect that hurts brain development. Since last spring, the virus has been linked to nearly 5,000 cases of microephaly in Brazil alone.”Here in Brazil, it is very clear, after the 2015 transmission season, that the epidemic is not over,’ said Christopher Dye, the strategy director in the Office of the Director-General at the World Health Organization. ‘We are near-certain that Zika will reach all areas that are inhabited by the (supposed) principal vector, Aedes aegypti. Probably all countries in the Americas, except Canada. … Maybe to the Mediterranean. It might move further north, through the range of Aedes albopictus, in the United States.”

“Here in Brazil, it is very clear, after the 2015 transmission season, that the epidemic is not over,’ said Christopher Dye, the strategy director in the Office of the Director-General at the World Health Organization. ‘We are near-certain that Zika will reach all areas that are inhabited by the (supposed) principal vector, Aedes aegypti. Probably all countries in the Americas, except Canada. … Maybe to the Mediterranean. It might move further north, through the range of Aedes albopictus, in the United States.”

“What scientists eventually find will help public health officials prepare for what’s to come—whether that means more Zika, or another virus, or all of the above. In an essay about how human activity has shaped the transmission of Zika and other tropical diseases, Hotez says the latest outbreak should make people seriously consider humanity’s potentially disastrous influence on the biosphere in the age of globalization.

As we continue to gather more information about the virus, we will be sure to keep everyone updated.

 

Source: The Atlantic

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