In early 2016, American media began reporting extensively about the Zika virus. Zika is spread to humans through a mosquito bite, and its symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. For most people, the Zika virus is not necessarily anything to worry, as it is not fatal and symptoms are generally mild for period up to a week. Hospitalization because of Zika virus is almost always not necessary.
However, the Zika virus can be extremely dangerous to pregnant women. There still many unknowns surrounding the Zika virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women and those attempting to become pregnant take special precautions. The Zika virus is known to cause a specific birth defect, microcephaly. Microcephaly is characterized by a smaller than expected head, which also indicates smaller than normal brain size. Children with microcephaly are at risk for seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability, hearing loss, vision problems and difficulty swallowing.
As of early 2016, there is no vaccine for Zika, nor is the any medicine that proves efficacious. Although the Zika virus was first identified in 1952, no cases were reported outside of Africa or Southeast Asia before 2007. In April 2015, a widespread outbreak began in Brazil, and is speculated that the mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus will eventually migrate to the southern United States.