Nowadays, people have to be concerned not only about diseases in their communities but also about outbreaks in other parts of the world. As the transportation system becomes more sophisticated with time passing, so increases the chance of being infected by a virus from another corner of a planet. Today, a person can get anywhere in twenty-four hours, and every newly emerged disease becomes a threat to all the people. Zika is no exception, and in 2016 it explicitly reminded Americans of the importance of monitoring outbreaks throughout the world to prevent being infected. Scientists are striving to develop a cure and ways of decreasing the risk of the disease spread, but as there is still no effective treatment method, prevention strategies are of paramount importance.
The moving of people from one place to another caused a free and effective passage of microorganisms on them, on their conveyances, and in their clothes and other belongings. Such a possibility “altered the course of history,” notable examples being “the great plagues that swept into Europe from Asia and the introduction of smallpox to the Americas.” Pathogen movement throughout the world is not a new phenomenon, but globalization keeps facilitating its spread, and the last several years vividly demonstrate the role of traveling in disease proliferation.
Zika virus infections had been seen solely in Africa and Asia until 2007 – when Micronesia faced a severe outbreak. In the following years, several islands in the Pacific reported local outbreaks as well. Soon, Zika is thought to have been introduced in Brazil during a competition; it was likely transmitted by athletes or tourists from French Polynesia or other participating countries. American officials in the US believed that a Zika outbreak was unlikely as the country was known for its effective mosquito-control efforts in the past. However, in 2016, more than four thousand infections caused by traveling were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the middle of the year. Many local mosquito-borne infections occurred in the US, and as Zika can be carried in a person’s blood and then passed to other people by mosquito bites, it becomes an enormous threat to Americans.
However, although Zika is mainly transmitted by mosquitos, recent precedents have proved that a person may also be infected by having sex with a Zika-infected individual. The virus is suspected of causing a rare condition of temporary paralysis and congenital disabilities, so it is especially dangerous to pregnant women. As a public health official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I would initiate educational programs throughout the country, which would help people understand the causes and ways of prevention of the virus. Pregnant women and their partners should prevent being Zika-infected during pregnancy by limiting traveling to hot countries or other areas with a high risk for virus transmission.
Educational programs should advise avoiding mosquito bites by using air conditioning or window and door screens indoors and using insect repellents as well as wearing long pants and sleeves outdoors. Women should be told that there are insect repellents that are safe for those who are pregnant and lactating. The fact that the virus can be transmitted sexually proves the importance of using condoms during intercourse. Today, the best way of Zika prevention is avoiding mosquito bites through minimizing visiting mosquito breeding areas. Traveling is essential for most Americans, but as a Zika vaccine is still to be invented, it is advised to avoid exposure to a mosquito-positive environment to secure not only oneself but also a home country.