The Zika Virus, much like Ebola a few years prior, is beginning to spread to countries and territories in which it had not previously been documented. This has caused alarm for many, especially those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Though the disease has been around for many decades (since 1952 in humans), it is only now beginning to gain recognition. Previously, the virus had only been found in a relatively dense area between Africa and Asia.
As of early 2016, however, it has been recorded everywhere from French Polynesia to Mexico and South America. This rapid spread has earned the Zika Virus a pandemic classification and its proximity to the United States is causing alarm. The virus spreads from person to person, however it is transmitted by mosquitoes. The exact ways in which humans contract the virus are still being researched and discovered as Zika spreads.
Effects on Children and Pregnant Women
The biggest effects of the Zika Virus tend to be found in the children of those who were pregnant while they had the virus. When a child’s brain is developing, the Zika Virus has been found to have noticeable impacts resulting in a condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly causes the baby’s head and brain to be underdeveloped during and after birth. Not only does microcephaly result in smaller head and brain for the baby, it can also lead to a variety of other medical problems including seizures, developmental delay, problems with movement & balance, hearing loss, vision problems and much more that is yet to be studied.
In addition to medical and developmental problems, some affected women have also been subjected to miscarriages as a result of the virus. Other longer term effects are still being researched and discovered as the virus continues to be documented and understood. All of these issues are the main reason that woman and men who are trying to have a baby should avoid being exposed to it at all costs.
How to Avoid the Zika Virus
While the Zika Virus can still be spread through sexual intercourse, there are a number of ways that you can prepare for the Zika Virus to help ensure that you and your unborn baby do not become ill. Whether a close neighbor or friend has the virus or you simply want to protect yourself from the general public, protecting yourself from Zika is imperative.
1. Stay Away From Contaminated Areas
One of the easiest and safest ways to avoid the Zika Virus is to simply stay away from the areas in which it has had the largest impact. This is a common sense solution, but one that many may forget to consider in their plans, especially if they have not researched Zika in depth. By not traveling to these areas, you are going to avoid the vast majority of the harm that could ever come your way.
If you live in one of the affected areas, this may not be a choice, but for those visiting family or as tourists, postponing your plans may be the best decision possible. The most traveled areas that have currently been affected by Zika include, but are not entirely limited to: Africa, Asia, French Polynesia, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. Stay up to date with the latest news to find out the status of the current spread of Zika in case it plays into your impending plans.
2. Take Extra Precaution When Pregnant
Since the Zika Virus primarily affects pregnant women, men will not feel strong effects. With that said, there are a number of symptoms that come along with the contraction of Zika virus. Men and women alike may experience everything from headaches to rashes and fever. Needless to say, you do not want to contract Zika whether you are pregnant or not.
If you are a woman in one the heavily impacted areas, it would be advisable to take note of the most common symptoms and signs of the virus. While there is not currently any medicine available to treat the virus, a number of easy to follow and apply steps can be taken if you fear that you have (or end up in fact having), Zika. Much like the flu, Zika can be treated with a lot of rest, fluids and low grade pain killers.
3. Prepare with a Survival Kit
While the virus has not yet become prevalent in the United States, some have begun to prepare should the virus make its way around the world. If this were to happen, a proper preparedness plan will be of the utmost importance. Since pandemics tend to happen quickly, many will be unprepared if it were to affect them. You can take the time now to store away a survival kit with all of the essentials. A survival kit can help when you are evacuating an area or moving quickly to get out of the affected area.
It should be noted that the Zika Virus, so far, has not been found to be as quickly spreading or as dangerous as diseases like Ebola or other similar illnesses. With that said, active preparedness is what separates those who are ready for a possible disaster from those who are not. Even if the Zika Virus does not end up impacting you or anyone that you know, emergency food and survival kits on hand will allow you to be ready for anything, be it disease or natural disaster.