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Zika Virus Reported in Mexico, Other Sun Spots May Pose Pregnancy Risk

Sheryl Ubelacker - The Canadian Press
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January 15, 2016
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Mayo Clinic Minute: Zika Virus (Mayo Clinic)

A mosquito-borne virus possibly linked to serious birth defects in Brazil has the potential to spread within the Americas, including to holiday destinations like Florida and throughout the Caribbean, researchers who track infectious diseases suggest.

Already at epidemic levels in the South American country, locally acquired cases of the Zika virus have been reported in Mexico as well as the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Martinique.

Zika (pronounced ZEE-kah) is native to parts of Africa and Asia and is transmitted to people by the daytime-biting Aedes mosquito. In 2007, the disease took root in the Pacific Islands, and last year it sparked a massive outbreak in Brazil, with an estimated 440,000 to 1.3 million cases.

While Zika generally causes mild symptoms like fever, feeling unwell, a rash, red eyes and joint pain - or in the majority of people, no symptoms at all - the virus is being investigated as a possible cause of small heads and undeveloped brains in some newborns whose mothers may have been infected while pregnant.

There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of babies born with this condition, known as microcephaly, since Zika first appeared in Brazil last May, said Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, whose team is studying the pathogen's potential transmission patterns.

"There is an association - and I emphasize the word association. It's not yet proven to be a causal relationship," Khan said Thursday. However, he suggested that Canadian women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant be wary if traveling to southern climes.

Read the rest at Toronto Sun

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