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September 7, 2016: Globally, Where Do We Stand with Zika

“Moving from Africa to French Polynesia to Central and South America, the disease is now active in the US and Asia, and is likely to continue to spread.

“Zika arrives in a country via the bloodstream of hundreds of globe-trotting vacationers and business people, all returning home from areas where Zika is actively circulating. It’s not like you can stop it — four out of five people with Zika have no symptoms, so most of those passengers are unaware they carry the virus in their blood.

No country is immune from a potential outbreak, as long as the mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus, Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus, live there

“To make matters worse, Zika can also be transmitted by blood transfusions and through sexual contact, particularly oral, anal and vaginal sex, and even by secretions left on sex toys.

Some have called Zika the world’s newest STD

“Scientists have learned a lot about Zika in the last year. For one, the virus appears to have mutated as it has spread across the world.

“When it first emerged, inconspicuously, from Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947, the effects of infection were mild, nothing worse than a mild cold or flu. While that’s still true for many today, for others, the consequences of Zika are devastating. Babies are being born with life-altering brain damage to women infected with Zika during their pregnancies; immune-compromised adults are dying of complications, and a Zika-triggered auto-immune disorder called Guillain-Barré attacks the nervous system, causing temporary paralysis, and even death.

“Several countries in Central and South America are asking the women in their countries to delay pregnancy if they possibly can and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States has told American women to stay away from areas where Zika is active. CDC sexual guidance is strict as well: no intercourse during the entire pregnancy unless the couple can carefully and correctly practice safe sex. Similar recommendations apply to couples who are trying to conceive.

""If you’re pregnant, you’re in a very delicate situation," says medical epidemiologist Dr. John Brooks, head of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS and STD Prevention. “You want to do everything you can to protect that baby. So our recommendation is to defer unprotected sexual contact for the entire pregnancy to protect against an outcome that could last a lifetime.’”

Source: CNN

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