You may think that Zika doesn't have any impact on your life, but you may need to start taking it seriously.
For most Americans, the dreaded Zika virus seems like a far off problem that only really causes problems for people in South and Central America, or for people who have visited locations — and even then, it only seems like a problem for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. But in reality, Zika hits a lot closer to home than you think, and should be a lot bigger cause for concern.
The U.S. recently declared the Zika virus outbreak in Puerto Rico to be a public health emergency, as the virus has infected more than 6,000 people, including more than 520 pregnant women. And a significant pocket of Zika virus has sprung up ins outhern Florida as the virus continues to spread, with 25 cases reported so far of local Zika virus.
However, polls indicate most Americans don’t seem to be concerned about the tropical disease, and even health officials note it’s unlikely to spread beyond tropical areas. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says Americans should be more concerned.
Why? It takes time for the effects of Zika to be noticable. It can take months for microcephaly to show up in infants, so it’s not like you’d know about the disease right when you got infected. Also, the risks for pregnant women and their babies can extend beyond the disease of microcephaly to many other ailments.
Also, don’t forget that people travel to the Caribbean and South America all the time, and they can bring the virus back with them. Zika can and does spread even in non-tropical areas. So health officials are reminding the public it’s wise to take precautions both to prevent Zika and limit your exposure to the virus.
“This Administration is committed to meeting the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico with the necessary urgency,” Secretary Burwell said in the statement. “As the first virus that can be transmitted by mosquitoes known to cause severe birth defects, we are working closely with Puerto Rican officials to pursue solutions to fight the virus in Puerto Rico with a focus on protecting pregnant women and continuing our efforts with jurisdictions throughout the United States to address this public health threat. This emergency declaration allows us to provide additional support to the Puerto Rican government and reminds us of the importance of pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and their partners taking additional steps to protect themselves and their families from Zika.”
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