By now, millions of people know about the Zika virus. There is a lot of mysteries surrounding the virus even though the news media has done a decent job educating the public. But even though there are one or two new Zika virus stories every day, rumors still trump those reports. For example, 42 percent of Americans believe the Zika virus is fatal, according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sergio Cortes, Brazil’s Zika virus expert, said that is just one of the rumors that has people shaking in their flip-flops.
According to Dr. Sergio Cortes, many people in Brazil don’t believe the virus can spread through human contact. That’s another rumor that isn’t true. In fact, Dr. Cortes told R7.com that sexual contact is one of the ways the virus is spreading so quickly. What started as a small outbreak in the Northeastern region of Brazil is now an international epidemic. On his LinkedIn page, Dr. Cortes said humans can give the virus to other humans. The Zika virus settles in body fluids, and any time there is an exchange of body fluid between people, the virus can enter the body of a non-infected person.
The number of infected Brazilians keeps going up even in areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito doesn’t live. That means there is, at least, one more way to be infected by the virus, according to a post on the Dr. Cortes Facebook page. There hasn’t been any reported cases of the Zika virus being transmitted by casual interactions with infected individuals, but Dr. Cortes and other researchers are not ruling that out. In fact, until there is more research everything is still on the table when it comes to trying to solve the mysteries that surround the Zika epidemic.
French scientist have positively identified the Zika virus as a major contributor to the increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in French Polynesia. Guillain-Barré syndrome is the disease that cause paralysis after the initial symptoms of the Zika virus disappear. Brazilian researchers now believe that Zika is a major reason why there are so many microcephaly cases in Brazil.
Brazil had less than 200 cases a year every year before the Zika virus outbreak. From August 2015 to March 2016 there have been more than 4,100 cases of microcephaly reported. Most of those cases are in cities where the Zika virus is out of control. Microcephaly causes brain underdevelopment in fetuses and the skull also stops growing. In a recent tweet, Dr. Cortes said 745 of those cases have been confirmed. Not all pregnant women infected with Zika deliver babies with microcephaly, even though rumors say all pregnant with Zika deliver microcephaly babies.