Monday, April 11, 2016

The Threat of the Zika Virus

This file photo shows an Aedes Aegypti mosquito photographed on human skin in a laboratory of the International Training and Medical Research Training Center (CIDEIM) in Cali, Colombia.

The most recent outbreak of the Zika virus erupted in Brazil a year ago. It is carried through mosquitoes and has been connected to birth defects and neurological problems in adults and infants. Death is rare, and only one fifth of infected people have symptoms, including mild fever, red and soar eyes, headache, joint pain, and rashes.

President Obama requested $1.8 billion dollars earlier this year to fund research to help fight the virus, but even more money is now needed to continue searching for vaccines and treatments.
Puerto Rico is one country infected with the virus that is in need of a solution as its number of cases double weekly. Moreover, it was discovered that the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually and not through a mosquito bit.

On the other hand, some researches claim that the outbreaks in Europe and the United States are "likely to be small and short-lived." It is predicted that a "vast majority of cases is a mild viral disease."

As we approach spring and summer, the mosquito population will grow to be much larger. Southern Europe is the home to a bread of mosquito that have the capacity to spread the virus but have not done so yet. Experts believe that there is no imminent risk to Europe because of this.

One serious consequence of the Zika virus is if infected blood were donated to a blood bank and distributed. This could cause the virus to spread even more to other people or countries.
In conclusion, scientists know little about the severity of the disease and the implications to follow.

I think that the government should work towards ending the virus as much as they can. Because it can cause birth and brain defects it is a very serious problem. Through the defects the virus will effect the world for a long time. Since it is transferable though sexual contact, it is pretty serious as people can spread it unknowingly because most people do not suffer from symptoms. I think the mystery of the virus calls for more caution as it may cause even more dire symptoms in addition to brain and birth defects.

Do you believe that the government should allocate more money towards working to end the virus outbreak?
Does the fact that Zika is transmittable through sexual contact make the virus more serious than before?
Would you consider this virus to be a serious risk to the public, even though it does not cause death?
Does the mystery of the effects of the virus call for more or less caution?
Should the privacy of passengers of airplanes be sacrificed in the name of screening for people infected with the virus?


Caroline Mameesh said...

My dad owns a house in Puerto Rico and has been down to Puerto Rico many times, often once a month, since the outbreak of Zika and its increase in Puerto Rico. He obviously has not been affected, nor has he seen any ramifications of the Zika Virus in PR.
I have my reservations about Zika, worrying about it turning out like Ebola, where there was a large scare for little international reason. Those whom the disease does strike are hit horribly, and it's a sad circumstance, but it does not call for massive amounts of funding and international scare.
That being said, being too cavalier is never a solid idea, either. Since little is known about Zika, funding to aid research on the virus is not a bad proposition. Knowledge is power, and who knows what the future of Zika holds. I do not believe exorbitant funds should be pooled over, however some research would be good. In that sense, mystery should yield more caution.
Zika being transmittable through sexual contact makes it more worrisome, but it doesn't surmount to much more concern. That is alarming, though, especially given that not all people manifest symptoms.
As for the privacy issue, if a person is traveling from a Zika-ridden country, the risk of infection is too large not to have more invasive screening. Otherwise, screenings from countries not affected largely by Zika appears violating to me.

Danny Halawi said...

I think it's better to be safe than sorry. Although the Zika Virus might not seem like a huge threat to society right now, the fact of the matter is the virus is growing at a pretty quick rate. If we allow the virus to keep spreading without putting an adequate effort in funding a cure, then we're potentially harming thousands of people. Also, even if the virus isn't a huge threat to many lives it's still going to scare the general public. Ultimately, Obama and other countries, if possible, should fund more research on finding a cure.

Jonathan Liu said...

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree here -- I don't believe the United States should be allocating more money to the research of this virus. It just doesn't seem like that big of a deal yet, and while human lives are important, any dollar spent researching the Zika virus is probably much better spent researching cancer or heart disease or brain disorders or HIV or many many other diseases and disorders. Obviously human lives are important, but at least right now at a time when human lives in the United States aren't being threatened greatly by the virus, this money should be dedicated to other things. It's scary that people are being infected quickly, but care to make sure to quarantine the virus and scan for it at customs to help prevent outbreak seems to be more than enough now as is.

Tara Young said...

You bring up a good point Jonathan. The newness of the Zika virus does make it seem like a more serious problem, while we have had many other diseases around for a long time that we have not yet cured either. I see how you came to your opinion and agree since not as many people die from the Zika virus than diseases like cancer.

Horace He said...

I disagree with Jonathan in that the US shouldn't be allocating more money to the research of this virus. I don't think it'll be some kind of major health scare in the US, but diseases in general should be studied, especially something like Zika where we don't know a lot. For example, without studying Zika, we wouldn't have discovered that Zika can cause microcephaly in pregnant women.

Alex Binsacca said...

While it may not be such a big deal now I think we should be a little bit more concerned with the zika virus. It is just like many other people have been saying, in which the zika virus outbreak could be very serious like the ebola virus. The pure mystery of what this disease worries me even more, of which makes me believe that we should be more cautious about it. Especially if it could be transferred through sexual relations. While, I may think we need to be concerned about the virus, I do not think we should invest a lot more money into the research, just a little bit more. It would probably be more easier to spread the awareness of the disease and what we know about it so far, that way people won't go into as big a panic if this thing goes more international than it already has. So basically fund a little more into the research, and try to spread awareness.

ETHAN CHAO said...

Zika is a very serious epidemic now, as it has spread throughout the New World. Although it doesn't directly cause death, it is confirmed to cause birth defects, which is a huge problem to the millions yet to be born. Children with these birth defects don't live for very long. Besides that, the mystery still surrounding this disease is not comforting, and we must be ready for any additional affects. This is an epidemic we're discussing here, and must be treated as such; besides, it feels good to eradicate a second human pathogen, (Rinderpest doesn't count) as a sign of humanity's medical prowess. As for quarantine, it's still a good idea to test people as they enter our borders, to prevent further spread. Sure, it'll involve a violation of privacy, but a simple blood test isn't anywhere near as bad as having someone read your web browser's history.

Rachael Howard said...

I believe we should always be more cautious when it comes to any virus. I mean just because it isn't serious where we are now doesn't mean it won't soon become serious where we are soon. I think this virus would be way more containable if it was only transmitted through mosquitoes because there are ways to prevent getting bitten like bug repellent, bug spray, mosquito nets, and B1 (a vitamin that is supposed to make you unappealing to mosquitoes). If it is also transmitted sexually, I think this virus will spread much quicker...