Here’s what you need to know about the mosquito-born virus associated with birth defects that the WHO recently dubbed an international public health emergency.
Zika is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the bug that also carries dengue, and chikungunya. All three diseases present flu like symptoms – fever, aches, pains.
Dengue, according to the World Health Organization, kills about 22,000 people a year.
Chikungunya is less deadly – generally, only those who already have health issues die from it.
Zika appears to be linked to the birth defect microcephaly, where babies are born with unusually small heads.
However, while experts strongly suspect there is a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly, it hasn’t been scientifically proven.
Where is it?
All three diseases are spreading quickly in the Americas, where few people have developed immunity to the viruses.
A vaccine for dengue has recently been introduced. But neither a cure nor vaccine exists for chikungunya or Zika, so fighting these diseases means preventing mosquito bites and fighting the bugs themselves – killing them with pesticides and eliminating their breeding grounds.
The WHO recommends regularly using insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants to cover as much of the body as possible, among other preventative measures.
How big a problem is it?
While 50 million people a year contract dengue, over the next year 3 to 4 million are expected to contract Zika.
CCTV America’s Jim Spellman explains in our video, above.
Dr. Joel Selanikio on the Zika virus
CCTV America’s Susan Roberts interviewed Dr. Joel Selanikio. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Magpi, a leading provider of cloud-based mobile collection and communication applications.