Tag Archives: virus

Ebola Crisis, Part II: Virus Likely to Spread to Uganda, says WHO

Most of us remember when Ebola made its way to the United States, infecting four citizens. One of them, Thomas Eric Duncan, a visitor from Liberia, ended up dying from the lethal disease. Since the scare, most have forgotten about the deadly virus and the main area it comes from.

An image of what Ebola looks like; photo from cdc.gov
An image of what Ebola looks like; photo from cdc.gov

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the Ebola crisis has a very high chance of moving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda. However, WHO did state that the risk of Ebola spreading globally remains very low.

The reason for the rise in Ebola cases is the result of the actions of local militias. These militias have slowed down WHO and other health organizations that are making an effort to treat the outbreak that started in the Congo back in August.

Uganda, which is noted as a poor country, does have a well-organized health care system. Since the beginning of the decade, there have only been three confirmed cases of Ebola in the country, lower than the numbers in the United States.

But the Congo does not have the same benefits. A health crisis has resulted due to not only fighting, but people affected by the virus refusing treatment.

Ebola is a virus that spreads through direct contact with body fluids, normally blood. It can take weeks before symptoms and signs appear, but after that, it will only take days before a person dies from it. The only carrier of the disease that can not be affected by the illness is a fruit bat, a relatively large bat.

The craziest thing about Ebola is after a person recovers, their semen or breast milk will carry the virus for several weeks or months.

For those that are worried about the virus, do not be worried about it for now. Just keep a eye on what is going on in Africa and hope for the best for those battling the virus.

What you have to know about the Zika virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a notice to take special precautions when making a trip to various warm areas where a mosquito-borne virus, called Zika virus, is spreading rapidly.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos, one of two species of mosquito known to carry the Zika virus. Photograph from Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.
Aedes aegypti mosquitos, one of two species of mosquito known to carry the Zika virus. Photograph from Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

The CDC has been encouraging all visitors to areas of Latin America and the Caribbean to take additional precautions against mosquito bites to abstain from contracting the virus. Authorities increased the warning to a Level 2 travel notice and are currently prompting pregnant women and women attempting to become pregnant to consider staying away from the affected regions out of concern that Zika might bring about a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly, a birth defect that results in a smaller-than-ordinary head and brain, as well as other formative issues.

In case you’re setting out for Spring Break in South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Puerto Rico, this is what you have to know before taking off:

  1. Zika is a virus spread by one particular kind of mosquito via bite. Not all mosquitoes in affected areas spread Zika — however the ones that do bite aggressively during the day.
  1. Since the Zika virus only stays in the bloodstream for a couple days to a week, according to Cynthia Moore, M.D., director of the CDC’s division of birth defects and developmental disabilities, it won’t infect the infant you later in your life, when the virus will be completely out of your system. 
  2. In the event that you contract the virus, you might develop an itch. Around 1 in 5 infected individuals will become sick with mild symptoms ranging from red eyes (most common), rash, and fever — to vomiting and aches in the head, muscles, joints, head, and behind the eyes within seven days. The symptoms can last up to a week. No deaths have been reported so far. 
  3. To prevent infection in affected regions, you’ll need to cover exposed skin; use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535; double check that your hotel room is screened in or air-conditioned. You can even wear clothing that contains permethrin, a synthetic insecticide. These products have been tested by the EPA and determined to be effective at repelling bugs, and are safe for children and women who are pregnant or nursing. 
  4. Pay attention to travel alerts and stay away from areas where there are outbreaks. If there is no alert, still take these precautions. If you contract Zika, the only thing you can do is treat the symptoms with rest, extra fluids, and medicine that contains acetaminophen, like Tylenol. Then keep warding off mosquitoes with repellent, long sleeves and pants. 
  5. You are more likely to encounter Culex mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, outdoors and at night. Be that as it may, you are at higher risk of bites from the Aedes mosquitoes, which can spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika, inside. That is because Aedes are more active and feed during the day.

The uplifting news is, while it’s not proven completely, researchers believe once an individual has been infected with the virus, they are immune and won’t be able to become infected again, as indicated by Higgs.

New tick-borne virus threatens Missouri farmers

A new virus has reared its head in Missouri, and has now independently infected two men who reside 60 miles apart from each other. According to NPR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling this virus the “Heartland virus” due to location and its discoverer Dr. Scott Folk at the Heartland Regional Medical Center. Ticks are the suspected bearers of the virus, but CNN quotes CDC researcher William Nicholson as saying the carriers could be sandflies or mosquitoes. Continue reading New tick-borne virus threatens Missouri farmers