Three independent research groups are trying to help solve the spread of the Zika Virus by studying the DNA family tree of the virus and track its “progress” as it encounters a wholly unprotected population.
Starting in Brazil in late 2013 or early 2014, Zika spread with the Aedes egyptii mosquitoes making their way through dense human populations. From Brazil, the virus traveled to the Caribbean, Central America, Puerto Rico and eventually to the U.S. and other countries.
Like all viruses, as Zika spread from person to person and from country to country its genetic blueprint changed in small but discernible ways. The RNA in each sample steadily picked up mutations over time as it gained exposure to new people and the viruses they hosted.
Along the way, physicians in Brazil (and then later in other countries) had begun to take note of a sharp rise in births of babies with unusually small heads — the first of 2,366 babies with Zika-related microcephaly eventually born in Brazil by the end of 2016. Read more here.
As we are not sure how soon we will be able to contain the spread of the Zika virus, it is extremely important to take precautions. If not absolutely necessary, it is wise to avoid travel to countries with the presence of Zika… especially if you are a pregnant woman, or a couple planning on having children soon. Zika can be contracted by being bitten by an infected mosquito and there have been many cases of Zika transmission via sex and other human-to-human contact.
If you have traveled to countries with highly reported incidents of Zika, it is extremely important to get blood tests to confirm whether or not you have contracted the virus. You can use LabFinder.com as a service to schedule your important blood tests for your Zika screening at a lab near you that is in your insurance network. Go here to learn more and register for free.