Student Tests Positive for Zika at University of Alabama
A college student from the University of Alabama has just tested positive for the Zika virus yesterday, June 13, 2016.
The student, unnamed for security purposes and privacy laws, had just returned home from a study abroad program. School authorities were notified last Friday on the student’s condition.
Since then, other students studying abroad in the Caribbean, and Central and South America have been told, through an email sent by Carolina Robinson, director of Education Abroad, to get themselves tested as the virus’ symptoms can appear after a few weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in their website, reveals that, because there is no cure for the virus, people with Zika have to take a lot of rest and to medicate with paracetamol or acetaminophen.
Zika patients should not take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs “until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding” 1
Contracting Zika Virus
Although this is the sixth case of Zika in the state of Alabama, there are no reports of local transmission of the virus. All cases had been related to travel from out of the country.
The Zika virus, first discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda, can be transmitted through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. Before 2007, 14 Zika cases have been reported, but because the symptoms of the virus are similar to other medical conditions, the actual number of cases might actually be higher.
Aedes mosquitoes usually bite in the early morning and late evening. This complicates the diagnosis of the virus, though, because this same species of mosquito is responsible for dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
Aside from the Aedes mosquito bite, the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, and when a mosquito that has bitten a Zika-infected person bites another person.
Zika virus symptoms appear to be common ones like fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, red eyes, and headaches. Because the symptoms look non-fatal and could be mistaken for any other sickness, there is a high probability of transmission from one person to another without anyone being the wiser.
While there have been reports of deaths linked to the Zika virus 2 most infected people rarely die from it. This means that it is possible for people to recover from Zika without even knowing that they had been infected in the first place.
Zika and Pregnancy
While most people can recover from the virus, pregnant women should be extremely vigilant 3 Contracting the Zika virus while pregnant can produce microcephaly, which causes the fetus to be born with an abnormally small head, and Guillain-Barré Syndrome 4 in which the body’s immune system damages the nerve cells, which could eventually lead to muscle weakness or paralysis.
Many experts fear that the Zika virus could cause other brain defects in younger children, but the studies are still inconclusive.
Zika outbreaks are happening mostly in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands 5
Consequently, there has been some apprehension regarding the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Brazil, considering the recent outbreaks, but Brazil’s new health minister says that they are doing all they can to ensure the public’s health and safety 6 during the international event.