Monday, March 14, 2016

Zika and the Brain

Perhaps recalling that I was once the Supervising PHN and then acting director of a county health department and an Infection Control Preventionist for several acute hospitals, I have been asked (among other questions), “What do you think of mosquitoes?” My answer? I think mosquitoes are the ultimate in bioterrorism, causing damage and death to millions the world over. They spread any number of viruses and parasites and who knows what else, causing diseases such as Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya. Zika is related to Dengue, Yellow Fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. Some recent studies are linking the Zika virus to microcephaly (a smaller-than usual sized head in the fetus of a pregnant woman who has the Zika virus). Thus, the suggestion that women in areas where these mosquitos live should avoid getting pregnant because of the risk of microcephaly and/or other birth defects to the developing fetus.

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