You’ve probably heard about the Zika virus, which has already afflicted Brazil and 22 other countries with a total of 1.5 million infected. The good news is that only one in five infected adults will show symptoms of the virus, and these cases are generally mild with primary symptoms of fever, inflammation, and red itchy eyes. The bad news? Pregnant women must take heed and avoid exposure to the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread the virus that can pass through placenta and harm a fetus. This has the potential to be dangerous, for the Zika virus strongly correlates with an alarming rise of microcephaly. This condition causes an abnormally small head and decreased brain development, and the affected children (if they live) will never enjoy healthy, independent existences.
Brazil has rapidly deployed over 200,000 troops to assist in eradicating the mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus, but the World Health Organization still anticipates the total number of cases to reach 4 million by the end of 2016. The disease may spread to the hottest, muggiest parts of the United States, and several cases have already been detected (although those people traveled to affected countries). President Obama has called for the rapid development of a vaccine, but such relief will likely take years to arrive. In the meantime, fumigation and education will be key to avoid catching the Zika virus.
Travelers should take care when planning international travel to the affected countries, and rescheduling a trip would probably be the best bet for pregnant women. The Zika virus may also have a substantial effect on the summer Olympics in Rio. Hold tight, humanity. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.