The ongoing outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) has been in the media spotlight for a few months now. So prevalent is the coverage that people can be forgiven for forgetting all about the Ebola outbreak that killed more than 10,000 since it began in 2014. Now that the Olympics are about to begin in Brazil – where a marked increased incidence in congenital microcephaly has gotten various authorities in a panic – media attention is now on how said authorities plan to handle the outbreak. Or not.
Something must be made absolutely clear and on no uncertain terms: there have been no deaths related to Zika. Symptoms in the infected – if in fact the patient becomes symptomatic at all – is largely a self-limiting mild fever and a rash. Only 1 in 5 infected individuals even know they have it. The virus itself, related in structure to Dengue, Yellow Fever and Chikungunya, has spread throughout South and Central Americas as well as the Pacific. A growing number of cases have been reported in North America, with noted instances of sexual transmission. But there are no deaths, nor are there any increased incidents of microcephaly.
When it comes to infections, the focus is and always should be on the symptoms and prognoses. Literally millions of people at this very moment are infected with rhinovirus – yours truly included – but there is no health warning by the WHO or recommendations by local health ministries. The reason being colds are innocuous. Despite the fact the WHO director general is ‘extremely alarmed‘ with how things are progressing with Zika, there has been no recorded rise in microcephaly incidence in the affected areas. In short, microcephaly is, as far as this reporter can see, largely contained within certain regions of Brazil.
So unless you’re in Brazil having hot steamy unprotected sex by the contaminated waters with nary a smudge of insect repellant, there is no excuse to panic.
Apologies for the headline. You have to admit though, clickbait works.