The Zika virus continues to dominate headlines. We here at After Bite will do our best to keep you informed in a timely manner, but please consult reliable news sources, too.
New U.S. Cases
New cases of Zika have been confirmed in the last few days for California (Los Angeles County), Arkansas, and Virginia. All victims had traveled to countries where Zika is known. NO U.S. CASES HAVE ORIGINATED HERE.
What is a Pandemic?
A “pandemic” is an epidemic of cases of an infectious disease over a large area. Zika has spread across multiple continents, and is thus considered a global pandemic.
What is Microcephaly?
The root of the panic over Zika concerns overwhelming, but circumstantial, evidence that the virus may cause microcephaly, a birth defect in which a child is born with an abnormally small head. Microcephaly may also cause seizures, hearing loss, vision problems, and delayed childhood development. More than 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been documented in Brazil….since October, 2015, just after Zika arrived.
How Will El Niño Affect Zika?
The El Niño weather phenomenon typically brings warmer, wetter-than-average weather to the Americas. These conditions are favorable to large, widespread mosquito populations since the insects breed in standing water. Many diseases, not just Zika, may increase in frequency and distribution as a result of more mosquitoes being available as vectors over a wider area.
Will Zika Eventually Become Established in North America?
A study published in the scientific journal The Lancet suggests expanding distributions of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, known and potential vectors of Zika respectively, could make regions where 60% of the U.S. population resides vulnerable to Zika as climatic conditions become warmer and wetter. For now, it is best to avoid travel to countries where Zika is known to occur. Consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and World Health Organization (WHO) for official advisories.