Brazil has been trying to solve some of the mysteries that surround the Zika virus for almost a year. The first case of Zika was reported in the state of Parnaiba last April, but Dr. Sergio Cortes believes there were many unreported cases of the virus because many infected people didn’t know they had the virus. The symptoms are flu-like symptoms, and they don’t last very long. Some infected people may not have symptoms at all, according to Doctor Sergio Cortes, Brazil’s top medical doctor.
Dr. Cortes has posted a great deal of information on his website about the Zika virus. But as he mentions, there are still unanswered questions about how the virus acts once it invades the human body. Dr. Cortes does know that the Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The same mosquito also transmits dengue and the chikungunya virus. But new information suggests that the virus is spreading by human to human contact. There are several reported cases of the virus being passed to a sexual partner. Dr. Cortes did say that researchers discovered the virus in the saliva, urine and semen of infected individuals.
Dr. Cortes said the main concern about the spread of the Zika virus is the possibility that it is responsible for the outbreak of microcephaly in the same area of Northeastern Brazil that Zika was first reported. Microcephaly is a birth defect in infants. Babies are born with small heads and they usually have brain damage. More than 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been reported in Brazil, and other countries are now reporting cases of the Zika virus and microcephaly. Dr. Cortes thinks that is more than coincidence.
The World Health Organization agrees with Dr. Cortes. The WHO has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency. There are reported cases in other South American countries as well as in Central and North America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pregnant women not to travel to more than two dozen countries in the Latin America, and the Caribbean where the outbreak is spreading.
The United States continues to report the spread of the Zika virus, and the France reported the first case of Zika a few days ago. Medical researchers are leaning toward human to human transmission for most of the reported cases in the U.S., according to Dr. Cortes, but that assumption has not been verified scientifically. Dr. Cortes also shares information about the Zika virus on his LinkedIn page.