Renee Sang

Zika Virus is an impending threat to many Americans, especially infants.

Maliha Kareem, Reporter

The World Health Organization (WHO), declared the Zika virus a global threat as of 2016. Originating in Uganda among rhesus monkeys in 1947, then humans in 1952, the Zika virus has now spread to 23 countries. In the Americas, the virus is most likely the cause of more than 3,700 birth defect cases called microcephaly.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida declared a state of emergency in Florida counties where people have been diagnosed with the virus. Currently there are 36 individuals in the US who have been diagnosed with Zika as it spreads rapidly through the Americas. In January 2016 the WHO declared that three to four million have been affected within a 12 month time period.

Recently a report via Dallas County Health officials showed that the Zika virus is capable of being transmitted not only through a mosquito bite like several before, but sexually transmitted. This has raised speculation on how to avoid Zika, yet not much is certain. Not much is known about Zika, beside it being from a vector which often is a carrier that does not cause the disease. Instead, it just spreads it from one person to the next.

Junior Rachel Irvin says “It’s pretty scary, I think they will take heavy consideration and take every precautions and try to protect [people]”

The threat has become so imminent that countries such as Brazil, El Salvador, and several more across the Americas urge women to refrain from becoming pregnant. Despite the advice against pregnancy, for many it is still difficult to prevent pregnancy. Abortion is legal in only three countries in Central and South America: Uruguay, Guyana, and French Guiana Mexico, Colombia and Panama only permit abortion on the bases of fetal impairments. Culture and politics play a role in these laws; many of the laws on abortion passed in the Americas are mostly by Catholic males.

Freshman Sorcha Monammaa says, “I think the ban is a good precaution. Although what if you want a child but at the same time do you want to risk them to be born into a disease?”

Despite many concerns, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will go on, according to the International Olympics committee. This has lead to much skepticism over the event as Zika has been linked to over thousands of infant deaths in Brazil.  Babies with microcephaly face a lifetime of brain damage and impairment. This leads to babies having smaller heads which leads to brain damage.

Sophomore Keisha Blackmon says, “I think it is a dumb idea. If people from other countries were to go to the Olympics it would just spread [Zika] when they were to their home country.”

There is neither a cure nor treatment known for the Zika virus. If contracted, there are tips outlined by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention that are continuously updated.