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    Top 5 things to know about Zika virus

    The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne epidemic in Brazil that is causing birth defects, was recently reported in the United States. Here are the top 5 things to know about the disease:

    1.The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared the virus a “public emergency of international concern”. Zika is now in at least 25 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Related: CDC: Flu reaches “epidemic” level

    2. Florida is ground zero for the Zika virus, because the state is an entry point for travelers from several Latin American countries. The first of three Florida cases was reported in January. And last week, a case was reported in Texas, allegedly transmitted through sexual intercourse. While the Texas case was not confirmed, the sexual transmission is possible, according to Kenneth Ratzan, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Fla. He cited a study published by the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which documented that the Zika virus was transmitted sexually by an American scientist who had worked in Senegal to his wife, who had never been to the country, according to WND. Georgia health officials also recently confirmed a case of Zika virus in the state.

    3. Currently, there is no vaccine available to treat Zika virus. The Brazilian government is working on a vaccine, but mosquito prevention is currently the best course of action, President Dilma Rousseff said in a televised address last week.

    4. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has created a location on pharmacist.com for pharmacists to access information on Zika and its prevention, and has included a session on theh virus at the 2016 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Baltimore on March 5. "APhA recognizes the importance of collaboration, coordination and communication among stakeholders regarding any public health crisis," said Mitch Rothholz, chief strategy officer for APhA.

    Related: FDA defers to docs in use of pain therapies for pregnant women

    5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are expecting many more cases of Zika virus in the United States. "There's a huge amount of travel to countries that have mosquito-borne transmission from Zika virus," said Steve Redd, MD, director of the CDC's Office of Public Preparedness and Prevention, KPAX reported. "I think we should expect that as travelers return they'll be tested, and there are going to be many states that have returning travelers that have the infection.”

    Read more: Zika virus: What pediatricians need to know

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.


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