Warning: The Zika Virus Might be Stunting Brain Growth in Newborns

 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Christian Segers, Opinion Editor

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus that has been linked to numerous birth defects and has been contracted in 33 countries, has now reached the threshold of being an international emergency.

Symptoms of the Zika virus include fevers, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headaches. Pregnant women are strongly advised against visiting the countries listed on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website, due to the prevalence of the aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus and its possible effects on newborns. Debo Nathaniel, a science professor at North Greenville University, shared her opinion as to why finding a cure for Zika should be a top international priority.

Nathaniel said, “I feel it’s imperative that we create a vaccine because of the risks that unborn babies are exposed to. According to CDC, this virus has been linked to a serious birth defect (microcephaly) in babies of mothers who were exposed to Zika virus while pregnant.”

Microcephaly is typically associated with smaller than average heads and brains and stunts the mental growth capacity of children. Unfortunately, the Director-General of WHO, Margaret Chan, warns that the virus is “spreading explosively” and could infect up to four million people before a cure for Zika is created and successfully instituted.

Although only recently becoming a trending topic across Google, the news and various other media outlets, the Zika virus has been around for nearly three-quarters of a century, as reported by Fox News.

Fox News also reported, “The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was first identified in people in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to the World Health Organization.”

The virus can fester for up to a week before the host begins to experience the symptoms. Although the recipient only becomes ill in one out of every five cases, the virus can be unbearable in extreme cases.