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If you've never heard of the Zika virus before this year, you're not alone.
It was isolated from monkeys in 1947 in the Zika rainforest in Uganda and since then
it hasn't really bothered humans much at all. Until now. The Zika virus appeared in Brazil
for the first time in 2015, and more than a million people have been infected since then.
Just to put that into perspective, the last largest outbreak happened in french polynesia
and it really only spread around to a couple hundred people.
80% of people with the virus don't have symptoms at all.
The others have mild symptoms including fever and a rash.
So here's why public health officials are concerned.
Now we're learning that when pregnant women contract Zika, they can pass it on to their fetuses
and this in turn can cause terrible birth defects. This is microcephaly. It's a birth defect
that involves incomplete head and brain development. So they look like they have very small heads,
and what that means is that they're basically mentally disabled, they have a shorter life expectancy
and it's just an absolutely devastating disease. Microcephaly has multiple causes, but officials think
it might also be linked to Zika. That's why public health officials in Latin America
and the Caribbean are cautioning women not to get pregnant right now.
In the US the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a similarly extreme measure
when they issued an unprecedented travel advisory telling women who are pregnant to avoid traveling
to countries in Latin America where the virus is circulating.
That included their very own territory, Puerto Rico. Zika virus is carried by mosquitos.
It might be transmitted through sex as well. And the type of mosquitos that spread Zika
live in warm areas all over the world, including the US.
The main vector for this disease is called the Aedes aegypti, and it's mostly found along the southern US.
But there's some question about whether it's also carried by another mosquito
called the Aedes albopictus and that has a much broader range.
Right now there's no cure or treatment for Zika.
They're working on vaccines but that could take years. So really the only way to protect yourself
is to try not to get bitten by mosquitos, which is difficult to do.
It's especially important that pregnant women are aware of the risk.
There needs to be a lot of awareness about the virus
and about this potential damage to the fetus later.
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解釋:茲卡病毒 (The Zika virus, explained)

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Larry 發佈於 2016 年 2 月 7 日   Larry 翻譯   Kristi Yang 審核

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三年前,茲卡病毒在西半球並無足跡。至今,最嚴重的爆發發生在2013年,法國玻里尼西亞,有著383起案例。但在2015年,巴西突然發現國內爆發了前所未有的茲卡病毒,超過百萬人感染了這個經由蚊子傳播,甚至有可能經由性行為傳播的疾病。
這個由蚊子傳播的病毒對大部分的感染者無害,但證據逐漸顯示茲卡病毒對胎兒的腦部有損害,以及有極少的例子顯示,它會對成人造成嚴重的神經損傷。

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