In the history of the world it has been the tiniest of insects that have wreaked the most havoc. Flies, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes have been carriers of death. Just as we conquer one of the many diseases that they impart to humans, another one comes along. Today the disease that is baffling scientists is Zika which was first discovered in Africa in 1947. It is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which also is responsible for spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, and other infectious diseases. It is believed that Zika jumped from Africa to Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia in the nineteen seventies. By 2007 it was found in Micronesia and from there made its way to French Polynesia. By 2015 it began to show up in Brazil where it is now an epidemic.
Most people don’t even notice that they have the Zika virus. In its most severe forms it causes a rash, inflammation of the eyes, flu-like symptoms, painful joints and a fever. Very rarely it causes Guillian-Barre Syndrome which causes paralysis and even death. The biggest problem with Zika occurs when pregnant women catch the disease. It has been closely linked to microencephaly in fetuses, resulting in smaller than normal brain size in the babies. This can lead to developmental problems in the growing child. Continue reading “Zika”