Zika virus is rapidly spreading around the world, and as more cases are being confirmed in and outside the United States, scientists conduct research, politicians make promises and people get ready for the upcoming mosquito season with all kind of mosquito traps and repellents for prevention.

The recent epidemic of Zika virus infections has raised serious concerns about its ramifications for the population around the world. Even though the virus was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda’s Zika forest animals, enough data and investigative report have not been available yet. As the disease first start being related with 2 birth defect called microcephaly and the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome concerns have risen among the world’s population.

In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. Credit: Post-Gazette

The concern about the debilitating effect on human fetuses the virus seems to lead on is so high that the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Moreover, public health authorities in some Latin American countries like Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Jamaica have asked their women to avoid pregnancies until the virus is better understood.

As more research is being conducted, more cases are being announced and summer is getting close with the usual plague of mosquitos it brings along. Here are 10 things linked to Zika outbreak around the world that everybody is talking about.

1) No real confirmation on which mosquito spreads Zika virus

One of the major concerns link to Zika virus is that is not yet confirmed which mosquito causes it. Even though it has been reported that The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which is prevalent in the tropical climate, in fact, no one has really confirmed that this particular mosquito spreads Zika in Brazil.

Experts say they strongly suspect Aedes aegypti is the main transmitter of the virus, but the reality is they don’t know for sure. A top WHO researcher said that even though the recognizable black-and-white striped mosquito is the most likely carrier, the United Nations’ health arm is not 100 percent sure of this.

“I think it would be surprising if Aedes aegypti wasn’t the main vector, but the evidence just isn’t very strong yet,” Scott Weaver, a mosquito expert, and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch said in a statement.

2) More cases confirmed in the US territory

Even though the disease is most commonly found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, there have been 346 Zika cases reported in the United States so far and more than 350 have become ill in Puerto Rico. 82 of these cases have been reported in southern Florida of this week. All of which are related to international travel, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the second Arkansas resident has tested positive for Zika virus. This individual recently traveled out of the country to Central America.

3) Microcephaly and the paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome may not be the only illnesses caused by the mosquito-borne virus.

Zika investigators believe that microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome may be just the most obvious sicknesses caused by the mosquito-borne virus. There have been recent discoveries of serious brain and spinal cord infections such as encephalitis, meningitis, and myelitis in people exposed to Zika.

Doctors are also worried that Zika exposure in utero may have some other hidden effects that simply cannot be identified at birth, such as behavioral problems or learning disabilities.

“If you have a virus that is toxic enough to produce microcephaly in someone, you could be sure that it will produce a whole series of conditions that we haven’t even begun to understand,” Dr. Alberto de la Vega, an obstetrician at San Juan’s University Hospital in Puerto Rico explained in a comment.

4) Public officials update Zika guidelines for pregnant women and their partners

It was also discovered that Zika virus is not only spread through a mosquito bite. The virus can also be transmitted sexually as studies have shown it can live in semen. Other studies suggest it could be passed from mother to baby in utero.

As this new evidence has open the possibilities for even more contractions of the disease, Delaware Division of Public Health officials has updated national recommendations to avoid transmission.

Among the precautions listed in the guideline, they recommend pregnant women to postpone travel to countries where Zika virus transmission is present. If these women decide to continue with their travel schedule, the guideline recommends them to discuss travel history with a doctor. They also encourage them to use condoms for vaginal, anal and oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if their male partners traveled or lived in an area with Zika transmission.

To women that are not pregnant yet, they recommend using condoms when in countries with active Zika transmission. But if they are trying to get pregnant but had possible exposure through recent travel or sexual contact should wait at least eight weeks after potential exposure before trying to conceive in order to minimize risk, even though they do not have symptoms of Zika.

5) Senator Rubio supports President Obama $1.9B request to fight Zika

Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio said he supports President Obama’s request to Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the spread of the infectious disease.

“While I’m supportive of fully funding the president’s initiative on this, I want to make sure that the money, when appropriated, will be appropriately spent on what we’re trying to address.” Sen. Rudio said.

During a press conference with local and state officials at his Doral office, Rubio said Obama administration must ensure the appropriate use of federal funds to combat Zika. He added that would make Obama win the support of congressional Republicans.

Rubio also said the federal funding should be prioritized to help developed a rapid diagnostic test kit for Zika.

6) Canadian researcher’s mosquito trap offers hope in fight against Zika spread

There is a new mosquito trap that seems to be 7 times more effective than other types of traps. The “ovillanta”, as its investors called it, is made from discarded tires and other recycled materials and has proven to be highly successful in regions at high risk for viruses such as Zika.

During a 10-month period study in 2015, ovillantas captured and destroyed 181,336 mosquito eggs. According to the study, more conventional traps eliminated 27,053 eggs.

The team of researchers first used ovillantas to combat Dengue, another disease caused by Aedes aegypti. There were no recorded dengue cases in the town of 15,000 in 2015. But it seems that the invention came in perfect time to fight against Zika as well. Dr. Gerardo Ulibarri, a researcher from Laurentian University said he thinks they can extrapolate the reduction of dengue transmission to the new emergency, which is the Zika virus.

7) Boca Raton woman with Zika says she is disappointed about hospital care

The sister of a woman who tested positive for the virus after traveling to South America said she was very disappointed about the care she received in a Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

Ibana Villasenor says her sister, went to the hospital on March 31 and was discharged on Monday. She came back Wednesday and was discharged one more time. On Thursday, the patient was notified that test results came back positive for Zika.

Mrs. Villasenor said the hospital released her sister in the middle of an emergency when she was facing the worst state of the illness.

The hospital then issued a statement defending its care.

“The hospital was following all appropriate CDC and Palm Beach County Health guidelines for the appropriate screening of the Zika and other viral diseases. Once confirmed, the results were communicated to one of the Infectious Disease physicians on our medical staff, for follow up in his office.” Charles Posternack, its chief medical officer wrote in a statement dated April 7 from.

Source: EurekAlert