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Warning: Deadly Zika now sexually transmitted; Florida declares public health emergency


(NaturalNews) According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, East Africa. The virus is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, while the symptoms are very similar to those of dengue or yellow fever. In human beings, after a short incubation period, the disease manifests through fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, headache or malaise.

Although it looks and feels like nothing more than a cold for the normal adult, in Brazil, the Zika disease or Zika fever has been strongly associated with the rise of a potentially lethal birth defect called microcephaly. This results in an abnormally small head and brain in the baby, and appears more frequently in mothers infected with Zika.

The 2015 Zika outbreak in the Americas

The most recent outbreak of Zika started in 2015, in Brazil and Colombia, as well as in Cape Verde in Africa. As it continues to spread and cannot be prevented by drugs or vaccines, the Zika virus is considered pandemic. Earlier in January, the CDC issued precautionary travel guidance for the affected countries and urged Americans to consider postponing their travels.

Nonetheless, Zika continued to spread, and on February 1, WHO declared that the exploding outbreak must be treated as a global public health emergency. Initially, the cases of Zika reported in the United States were all travel related. They were found in people who had recently traveled in tropical regions, and were most likely infected by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Recent reports, however, draw attention to sexual transmission.

More cases of sexually transmitted Zika

Since the discovery of the Zika virus, only one potential case of sexual transmission was indicated, when the virus was isolated from the semen of an infected man. However, a recent case from Texas confirms the worrisome suspicion that the disease can be transmitted sexually. This individual had not traveled to any Zika area, but became infected after his partner returned from Venezuela. After screening the couple's house for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the CDC confirmed that the patient was indeed infected with Zika through sexual transmission.

This makes an already dangerous situation even worse. While it was previously thought that the Zika virus is restricted to countries where the Aedes mosquito is found, we now know that the virus can be spread even in the absence of the carrying insect. While no further advice has yet come from the CDC, condoms remain the only effective way to avoid the sexually transmitted Zika.

Zika spreading through the United States

So far, there have been no reports of the Zika virus being transmitted from mosquitoes in the United States. However, the Aedes aegypti mosquito does live in the south-eastern U.S., and might cause small outbreaks as the weather warms.

In addition, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency for the four counties where people have been diagnosed with the disease. These are Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa. Although it is believed that all nine cases were travel related, the new report about sexual transmission coming from Dallas gives Florida enough reason to worry.

In the meantime, Governor Scott's executive order requires the state health officer to reduce the population of insects that could spread the disease in Florida. Residents here and throughout the U.S. are advised to avoid contact with mosquitoes and protect themselves against mosquito bites.

However, can insect repellent, screens and mosquito nets put an end to this global public health emergency when the CDC, WHO and other health organizations combined have been unable to do so?

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