Zika Zips and Zaps

With the outbreak of Zika in mosquitoes, a simple bug bite in a pregnant female can cause long-term birth defects. The outbreak of the Zika virus caused a panic internationally in places such as South America, Africa, Asia, and North America, and there have even been over 160 cases of Zika in Maryland as of 2016. Measures have been taken with urgency to stop the spread of Zika.

The main concern with Zika is microcephaly. When a pregnant woman is infected, the virus could affect the unborn child. Microcephaly prevents an infant’s head from developing to average size, and other birth defects include impaired vision, hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.

“There are always complications that can go on with pregnancy, and it is especially heart wrenching to see newborns with microcephaly because most women go through their pregnancy expecting a healthy child,” said LRHS parent and Registered Nurse Deborah Stovall.

However, Zika has implications for the person infected as well: symptoms include fever, joint pain, and a rash. In addition to mosquito bites, Zika can be transferred from an infected person to another human via blood transfusions or sexual intercourse.

A contributing factor to the fear surrounding Zika is the lack of a confirmed cure or a vaccination against the Zika virus. The coverage of the Zika virus was televised with stories of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC)  attempts for prevention of the disease. Stories have also been reported of how mothers are in tears over their infants’ birth defects and the public’s devastation over the outbreak.

It was televised almost daily and caused panic when it first came to the United States, which was very similar to how Ebola was first reported in the U.S. Now, this daily media coverage is gone, but does this mean the media was initially overhyping it?

“Every year the media has some overhype like the year of the swine flu, the year of the shark, the year of the zika, the year of the bird flu virus,” states Long Reach High Teacher      Ms. Schreder.

Some people think that the media is doing its job with all the reports. “I think the news needs to be put out everywhere so people can be informed,” commented Ms. Stovall.

The virus has been in the states for some time, yet it has had moderate impact. But zika has been present in other countries for at least a year. South America has been hugely affected with the terror of zika. Some organizations like the CDC have quarantined cities in South America because of the fear of some women’s babies contracting microcephaly. In the United States, women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant are encouraged to stay away from any place where Zika has been detected, such as Florida, specifically Miami.

As spring approaches, so do mosquitoes carrying zika. Due to most mosquitoes not liking cold weather, they are usually dormant during winter. But with the warmer months coming, people should be aware of the disease making a comeback.

National organizations such as the UN have issued insecticides but the damage is not decreasing as fast as people want. With the coverage lessening and no cure in sight, could zika zap our next generation defenseless?