The good news about the Zika virus in Canada (and Chile, for now) is that it isn’t likely to be spread by mosquitos here, according to the World Health Organization.
That, of course, doesn’t leave Canadians immune from contracting the disease when they are travelling down south. Recently, travel to Florida has become such a concern the Canadian government issued a warning about travel to certain parts of the state.
Here’s what you need to know about Zika:
It is spread by mosquito bites and by sex
Zika is related to the West Nile, yellow fever and dengue viruses and passed on by the bite of a mosquito. It is also transmitted sexually. Men have passed it on to both female and male partners. It is advised that men who have travelled to infected areas use condoms for at least six months.
Symptoms are usually mild
Close to 80 per cent of people who become infected never display symptoms. For those who do, the most prevalent indications are a rash and fever. It can also cause muscle and joint pain, headache, eye pain and pink eye.
Unborn babies at risk
When pregnant women are infected, unborn children are at risk of contracting Zika. It can cause microcephaly, which leaves babies with enlarged heads, slow mental development, along with delays in movement, speech and growth.
Vaccine research underway
Research and testing for a Zika virus vaccine has been accelerated as it spreads to more and more places. Inovio Pharmaceuticals has been given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to go ahead with tests of an experimental Zika vaccine in people.