First case of Zika virus hits the US

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zika-virus-photo-1.jpgAs if travelers didn't have enough to worry about with mosquitos spreading diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile, now there's a new virus threatening our health: Zika virus.

Just two days after the CDC issued a travel alert advising pregnant women to consider avoiding areas including Brazil, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico where this once rare virus is now rapidly spreading, the first U.S. case of a baby born with Zika-related microcephaly has been confirmed in Hawaii. It is believed that the baby's mother was infected while pregnant in Brazil last year.

Mounting evidence has linked Zika infections in pregnant women to the birth defect microcephaly, a potentially deadly underdevelopment of a baby's brain, also resulting in abnormally small head size. Richard Kuhn, head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University tells Yahoo Travel that "Once a pregnant woman is infected, the placenta can also become infected, causing an infection in the brain of the fetus. It is still unclear whether there is a particular trimester during which fetuses are the most vulnerable," says Kuhn.

The most common symptoms of Zika, a flavivirus related to Dengue, Yellow Fever, and West Nile, according to Richard Kuhn, Head of Biological Sciences at Purdue University, include flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, headache), as well as rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.

 

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