What to Know about the Zika Virus
The Zika virus is a public health crisis that requires preemptive, coordinated planning on the part of government agencies which are responsible for keeping families safe. The summer months have arrived, as well as the mosquito season - the most common source to transmit the Zika virus.
Because of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have declared public health emergencies in the United States and abroad. These statistics from the CDC make clear the reality of the situation we face and why we need to address it immediately:
- Nearly 2,700 cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the United States - with about 700 in the continental U.S. alone - and governors in Florida and Hawaii have declared states of emergency.
- Almost 500 pregnant women in America - over half of which are in the continental United States - have exhibited evidence of a Zika virus infection. One of those expecting mothers is North Dakota's first-identified case after she traveled to Puerto Rico.
- Health officials estimate that Puerto Rico's real caseload Zika virus infections is around 80,000 - and that a quarter of the territory's population will be infected by the virus by the end of 2016. Each year, about 40 million people travel between the continental United States and Zika-infected areas like Puerto Rico - compounding the risk of the virus spreading.
Since the National Institutes of Health estimates four out of five people with the Zika virus show no symptoms, the risk of sexual transmission of the Zika virus is high, and the WHO has advised men and women visiting countries with a current Zika outbreak to delay their plans to have children by a full eight weeks even if they aren't showing symptoms - and six months for men with symptoms.
These statistics demonstrate the real and urgent need to address the spread of this virus before it gets worse. Here is what you need to know to keep you, your family, and your community safe from the Zika virus: