In 1947, in the forests of Uganda, a virus was discovered that was responsible for the infection of millions of people throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. This past May, the virus swept Brazil, leaking into the Western Hemisphere.
Named after the forest in which it was found, the Zika virus now threatens to infiltrate the United States. According to The Hill, the virus is expected to reach Florida by this upcoming May, eventually spreading to as far as Washington and hitting as far west as California. The southern United States is predicted to be encompassed nearly in its entirety. Cases have already been seen in American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Zika virus, which has been proven to be similar to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, originated from a mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. Although this mosquito heavily populates Florida and Hawaii, it isn’t widely found in most other areas of the United States, which is fortunate, but still does not alleviate all concerns.
The government has recently decided to have a White House summit regarding the inevitable arrival of the virus in May. This summit, planned to be a day long event, will be held on April 1st, and will consist of officials on both state and local levels as well as experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The main objective of this summit will be to inform officials on how they can begin to prepare their states for the oncoming virus. To avoid another situation like Ebola, the government has made it their top priority to inform U.S. citizens so they know what they’re dealing with and what precautions should be taken against it. In order to obtain this information, the CDC has been researching the virus, along with other scientists. Results have indicated that there is a connection between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect that causes infants to have unusually small heads.
Fortunately though, according to the New York Times, the virus is virtually harmless. In most people, it does not even have symptoms and, as scientists can see thus far, it has no long lasting effects that are harmful. In light of the virus’ arrival, the best thing for people to do is stay informed and collected, which will help not only the doctors and officials do their jobs, but also save the American people a lot of anxiety in the long run.