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Zika Virus expected to spread more by summer

JACKSON, Miss.- The Zika Virus has a growing presence in the United States.

Dr. Jonas King, professor of biology and microbiology at Mississippi State University, confirmed that there are over 500 reported cases and nearly 250 of those reported are in pregnant women.

“There hasn’t been a confirmed case that’s called local transmission. A local transmission is when it’s actually been transmitted from a mosquito to a person in the Continental U.S.,” King said.  All cases reported in the U.S. were brought with them from somewhere else.

King expects there to be transmission by mosquitoes in the United States within the next month, entering the summer season.

Zika Virus was originally documented in 1947 in Uganda in a detained monkey. The first human case was found in 1952 and have since spread to Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In May of 2014, the first confirmed case was found in Brazil and on February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). It has continued to spread all the way to the America since that time.

Zika Virus is most commonly spread through a mosquito bite but King said doctors have recently discovered that males can spread it as a sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms may only last a few days to a couple of weeks and are typically mild. In 80 percent of adults who contract the virus there may be no symptoms at all.

Zika Virus is especially harmful to pregnant women, or women attempting to become pregnant. Especially because it can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

Once someone is infected, however, they will be immune to contracting the disease in the future.

The CDC website has a map of countries susceptible to the Zika Virus. If someone has been traveling recently to any of those places, they’re encouraged to visit a doctor for screening as symptoms are hard to notice.

King recommends wearing DEET or another similar bug spray compound at all times while outdoors and reminds people to be mindful of standing water in the yard and flip all small boats and pools over when being stored.

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