For weeks now, the national and international news has been scattered with stories about what is called "Zika Virus." But, for me, the story has increased relevance for me, as it was announced by the Ohio Department of Health, that Ohio has its first two cases of Zika Virus, one in the Cleveland area, and the second case in Stark County, close to where I live.
My fear is that there may be some kind of panic that may start to set in as news of the Stark County case starts to make the rounds locally. I remember when the Ebola story really started rolling in the fall of 2014. And, then there was a local connection in close-by Akron, the story really took off around here. But, alas, Ebola is not Zika. However, do local people know that yet?
Why my local peeps SHOULD NOT panic about Zika Virus (yet):
- It's Still Winter, Dude: Even though it's been milder than last year (what an understatement that is), Zika is spread my mosquitoes and they need a warmer climate. Now as spring gets closer, this story becomes more interesting.
- People Rarely Die of Zika: This is not Ebola, and don't let people make you think differently
- Zika is not airborne and is not spread by casual contact
Why people SHOULD be concerned about Zika Virus:
- There is no test for Zika Virus: Well, that's not very accurate. There is no local testing for Zika. The only way to get testing done is through the CDC.
- There is no Zika vaccine: Politicians like President Obama are pushing for quick development of a Zika vaccine. But, in reality, we probably won't see one for at least 2 years.
- Possible association with Guillan-Barre syndrome (GBS) which is a rare disorder where a person's own immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes paralysis (CDC). It not has been proven if Zika causes GBS, but officials in Brazil are investigating.
So, I'll be watching closely as this news cycle continues, especially for more Ohio cases. But, for more information, I recommend these links: CDC has an entire section of their website devoted to Zika, an article from Lifehacker, article from Columbus Dispatch, article from WKBN-TV, article from Canton Repository.