By this point in time there are few people around the globe who haven’t heard of the Zika virus and the many dangers both rumoured and in reality to be associated with the disease. Indeed, there are very real concerns but is there a cause for such widespread panic and is there any way to prevent the dangers associated with the virus, such as vaccines? If you are planning a trip abroad this year and are concerned over your safety, here is some information you need to know.
What Exactly Is the Zika Virus and How Is It Transmitted?
Zika is a virus that is carried by a specific species of mosquito, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. To date the Zika virus has been positively identified in 29 countries around the world and the World Health Organisation, WHO, estimates that somewhere between 3 and 4 million people will be infected within the coming 12 month period in the Americas alone. Of primary concern are pregnant women who have been advised not to travel to those countries because it has been definitively proven that the Zika virus can cause severe neurological birth defects.
The Controversy Explodes
In some of the countries with high numbers of infected people, health organisations are advising women not to get pregnant, sometimes for as long as a 24 month period. Brazil is especially affected and the president, Dilma Rousseff recently stated that it is urgent to mobilize so as not to lose the battle, which we are currently losing to some extent. The controversy surrounding the Zika virus is that scientists are claiming it to be a genetically engineered virus and that prominent businessmen are associated with the laboratory thought to be responsible for the development of the virus. There is no definitive proof that this is the case, however, the controversy is exploding and many health experts around the world are crying out for answers.
Is There a Vaccine Effective against the Zika Virus?
To date there is no known medicine effective against the Zika virus and there is no vaccine which has been developed.
When you go to clinics such as the London Travel Clinic to get your travel vaccinations when you plan to leave the country, you may want to discuss which areas of the world are considered to be ‘safe’ with few or no reported cases of infections. A travel clinic is in the best position to advise you where it is safe to travel and whether or not there are any specific vaccinations that can keep you safe, especially if you are pregnant.
Since it has been officially been reported that the Zika virus has reached pandemic proportions, it would be best to choose countries not yet exposed to Zika if you are of child-rearing age and have any intentions of getting pregnant. If you are not amongst those looking to have children in the near future, travelling to those locations infected by Zika are as safe as anywhere else with unknown dangers. The bottom line is whether or not you are planning to conceive, if not, there really is little cause for concern.