Cleaveland: Don't take chances with the Zika virus

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photo Clif Cleaveland

Before last year, the Zika virus was thought to cause only mild symptoms limited to inhabitants of parts of Asia and Africa. In November 2015, however Brazil reported a number of severe birth defects attributable to Zika infection. Worldwide travel advisories for pregnant women have followed.

Zika belongs to a group of viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue and West Nile fever. It was first detected in rhesus monkeys in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1964, then was found in the Aedes mosquito species. From there, the insects carried it to Nigeria and on to people of all ages in Central Africa, Egypt, India and the Philippines.

Symptoms of Zika infection commonly include fever, headache, a rash and achy joints.