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TTC Special: Zika virus threatens the Caribbean

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The virus was first discovered in monkeys in Uganda in 1947.

TTC Service.- The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus connected to the increasing rate of birth defects in Brazil, caused a travel warning for 14 Latin American nations and Caribbean territories exposed to the virus.

The alert is due to the alarming increase in cases of infants born with brain damage linked to Zika virus. U.S. health officials have warned pregnant women to postpone travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

The United States C.D.C. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that exist growing evidence that there is a link between Zika virus and microcephaly.

Zika causes fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, with symptoms usually lasting under a week. But in pregnant women, the virus can spread to the fetus and cause brain shrinkage – a rare condition called microcephaly that severely limits a child’s intellectual and physical development – or death.

The virus was first discovered in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. A year later, that same virus was found in the Aedes africanus mosquito. Researchers did not find evidence of human infection with ZIKV until twenty years later when it was isolated from human patients in Nigeria.

In the past decade ZIKV spread beyond its usual geographic boundaries, causing outbreaks in some of the most remote regions of the world. In 2007, an outbreak of Zika virus was reported on the isolated Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The C.D.C. warning has also ignited growing concerns across Latin America over the region’s alarming vulnerability to mosquito-borne diseases, particularly in Brazil. Brazilian tourism minister Henrique Alves commented on C.D.C.’s warning arguing that their government were adopting measures to prevent Zika outbreak from intensifying in the country.

A baby born with a catastrophic birth defect linked to poor mental abilities has become the first case of the Zika virus in Hawaii, according to the U.S. paper Daily Mail.

The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes species mosquitoes, which also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

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