In quite possibly the scariest news we’ve reported in recent months, there’s a new disease that’s made its way from Africa to South America that’s terrifying everyone in its wake. Called the Zika virus, mothers infected with the bizarre strain often birth babies who suffer from incurable microcephaly, which means that they essentially have shrunken brains. Most of these children will require lifelong care.
And the number of infected individuals is growing rapidly. First found in Brazil in 2014 after the World Cup, there were 147 new cases documented in Brazil over the course of that year. In 2015, however, there were 2,782 cases reported. About 40 of those people have since died.
While no one is sure how the virus got to South America, they know that it is spread by mosquitoes.
Flickr / jentavery
The symptoms for mothers include headache, rash, fever, and joint pain.
Given the severity of the condition, the Brazilian government says that any woman considering becoming pregnant should wait to do so until the outbreak is contained.
If women are already pregnant, officials advise them to cover as much skin as possible and apply bug repellent frequently. Mothers-to-be in their third trimesters are most at risk.
Since October of 2015, the infection has been found in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Panama, Suriname, Venezuela, and of course, Brazil. Even more frightening is that it’s now on U.S. soil in Puerto Rico.
Make sure that you are extremely careful if you’re pregnant or are planning on starting a family anytime soon. Governments around the world are racing to put an end to this madness, but in the meantime, prevention is on us.
CDC Zika Virus