Zika: The Hurdles Ahead For Vaccinating a Pandemic
Summer is on its way and with the warming weather, brings the return of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have contributed to several cases of diseases such as Malaria, West Nile, Yellow Fever, etc. Recently, the World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency for the Zika virus.
According to the CDC, the Zika virus, “… is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.”
For those who don’t know what Microcephaly is, the CDC defines it as: “a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects.”
This is only the fourth time that a global emergency has been declared by the World Health Organization since 2007. These four being H1N1, Polio, Ebola, and now Zika. Zika is now in the beginning stages of the vaccination process and as you can see in the infographic below, this could be some bad news. The average vaccine takes anywhere from 10 – 15 years to finalize. This is the start of a long road to the hurdles ahead for Zika and the public.