While the current outbreak of measles and Ebola are making headlines, the Zika virus remains to be a silent and looming global threat.
Dr. Karin Nielson from U.C.L.A studies Zika’s impact in Brazil. Speaking to The New York Times the pediatric infectious disease specialist said:
“Zika has completely fallen off the radar, but the lack of media attention doesn’t mean it’s disappeared. In some ways, the situation is a bit more dangerous because people aren’t aware of it.”
Back in 2016, the Zika virus was the center of a worldwide health crisis. Its presence was most prominent in Brazil where it is linked to Microcephaly in thousands of babies born from mothers infected during pregnancy.
The virus rapidly spread throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States and eventually, Australia. ABC News reported 76 cases in Australia back in October 2016. The Zika virus-carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti can only be found in certain areas of Northern, Central and Southwest Queensland. According to Australia’s department of health “Currently, all cases of Zika virus diagnosed in Australia were caught overseas.”
The outbreak caused panic among countless tourists who were forced to cancel vacations throughout the tropics. After the initial panic, news of the epidemic died down in a short while. Over two years later, experts warn that Zika is still a threat.
While the virus is spread by mosquitoes, it can also be contracted through having sexual intercourse with an infected person.
Dr. Ernesto T.A. Marques from The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro said: “The next outbreak is not a matter of if, but when.”
Paolo Zanotto, a molecular virologist at the University of São Paulo expressed his concern that the virus will never be eradicated.
“Our biggest fear is that we will never get rid of Zika, just like we can’t get rid of dengue,” he said.