Marla Ahlgrimm Discusses Zika Virus
Zika is a virus, typically spread via mosquito bites. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, it is a mild illness but can have profound effects on some of our most vulnerable: unborn babies. Read on for Ahlgrimm’s response to the current Zika scare.
Q: How is Zika contracted?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Zika, like its better-known cousin West Nile Virus, is a mosquito-borne illness. It is spread through the bite of an infected insect. The mosquitos that carry Zika are opportunistic creatures that can breed in even the smallest locations, preferring human-populated areas to swamp and marshland. Zika may also be spread via sexual intercourse.
Q: What are the symptoms of the Zika virus?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Zika is usually a fairly mild illness that presents with symptoms not unlike the flu. While many of those infected will not show any outward signs of sickness, it is not uncommon to experience fever, muscle pain, sweating, loss of appetite, headache, and stomach upset.
Q: If Zika isn’t a life-threatening illness, why has it had such extensive media coverage?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Zika is not usually dangerous to healthy adults or even children. However, babies born to mothers carrying the virus are at a high risk of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes the head to be much smaller than normal. Microcephaly can cause developmental delays, hindered growth, vision and speech impairment, and intellectual disabilities.
Q: Is there a Zika vaccine?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are currently over a dozen independent entities working to develop a vaccine for the virus. The World Health Organization stated in early 2016 that developing an “inactive” vaccine for pregnant women was of the utmost priority. Other options include “live” virus vaccines and possibly gene-based vaccines, which would utilize genetic material directly from the virus to trigger an immune response in recipients.