Thursday, January 28, 2016

As Zika Virus Spreads, El Salvador Urges Against Pregnancies

Scientific American, Reuters (Jan. 22, 2016): El Salvador Urges Against Pregnancies Until 2016 as Zika Virus Spreads, by Reuters Staff:

El Salvador on Thursday urged women in the Central American nation to avoid getting pregnant until 2018 to avoid their children developing birth defects from the mosquito-borne Zika virus which has rampaged through the Americas.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses. Health experts are unsure why the virus, which was first detected in Africa in 1947 but unknown in the Americas until last year, is spreading so rapidly in Brazil and neighboring countries.

The virus has been found in 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America, though there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Zika virus has been linked to children born with underdeveloped brains and paralysis in adults. While it is primarily transmitted by mosquitos, new evidence suggests that Zika virus may also be sexually transmitted. 

Response to the spread of the virus has varied from country to country, with some governments issuing travel warnings to countries where the virus has been found. Other countries have issued recommendations that women avoid pregnancy for as long as two years, despite lack of access to birth control methods or abortion in some cases. 

More information can be found at the BBC or New York Times and Vocativ

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