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Is Zika a Threat to Sacramento?

Mosquito Zika Sacramento.jpg

Is Zika a threat to Sacramento residents? With travel becoming more affordable to the average American, there has been a boom in international tourism for those who wish to explore the world. Yet there are some precautions that must be taken under consideration when stepping into new climates. The mosquito-transmitted disease known as Zika has now travelled fast and far to affect multiple states, including California. With the Olympics coming up and plenty of travelers unwilling to cancel their plans, the media has pushed the panic button due to the lack of a vaccine or medicine for the disease.

Zika symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Conjunctivitis

While the CDCC has made it clear that people usually don't get sick enough to visit the hospital and rarely die from Zika, there are high risks during pregnancy that can lead to other syndromes. For a woman who is pregnant, Zika infection can cause a wide range of birth defects, most well-known among them the tragic condition of microcephaly. There has also been a spike in Guillain-Barre Syndrome which infects the human nervous system and weakens the body. In places such as South America and certain islands in the Pacific Ocean, mosquitos are known to transmit Zika through their bite. Currently, the virus is not spread by mosquito in the United States, - it's been contracted by those who have travelled to infected areas and then come back to the continental U.S.

Californians have been lucky in the battle against Zika. Only six native Californians have contracted the virus in the past three years, with all cases contracted abroad. In the age of jet travel, the world is undoubtedly getting smaller. With the upcoming Olympics in Brazil, the virus presents a formidable fear factor. Because the disease is contracted in tropical regions like Brazil, the influx of travelers returning to their home countries could serve as the catalyst for mass infections of Zika at points across the globe. Olympic athletes such as Rory McIlroy, Stephen Curry, and Tejay van Garderen have already withdrawn from attending this year. Even the draw of Olympic glory won't convince these athletes to risk contracting the Zika virus.

Zika virus is nothing terribly new: it's been around since 1947 after being discovered in Uganda. While the disease has been around for decades, its rapid spread across the world should nonetheless be a concern for Sacramento residents and Californians. Thankfully, we have nature working for us: our state's climate is less hospitable to tropical pathogens like Zika. Let's just hope the CDC stays on top the matter to contain any potential outbreak.

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