News Outlets Examine Zika’s History, Related Viruses, Other Diseases Responsible For Microcephaly

The Atlantic: The Zika Virus’s Family Tree
“…The yellow fever virus that plagued Memphis [in 1878] eventually lent the Latin version of its name (‘flavus,’ meaning ‘yellow’) to the group of viruses that share its molecular characteristics. In addition to yellow fever, the flaviviruses include West Nile, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, and Zika … Among other shared traits, the flaviviruses spread quickly and easily — a characteristic that the world is now re-learning with the current Zika outbreak…” (Coombs, 2/10).

The Guardian: Climate change may have helped spread Zika virus according to WHO scientists
“…It’s still not clear what role rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns have had on the spread of Zika, which is mainly spread by mosquitos; the increased global movement of people is probably as great an influence as climate change for the spread of infectious diseases. But the World Health Organization, which declared a public health emergency over the birth defects linked to Zika, is clear that changes in climate mean a redrawn landscape for vector and water-borne diseases…” (Milman, 2/11).

New York Times: Experts Study Zika’s Path From First Outbreak in Pacific
“…[I]n 2007, Zika appeared on Yap and nearby islands in Micronesia, 800 miles east of the Philippines, where nearly 50 people had been infected. Six years later, it showed up in French Polynesia, 5,000 miles to the southeast of Yap, where thousands contracted the virus. Zika has now infected an estimated 1.5 million people in Brazil and is rapidly spreading through many parts of the Americas…” (Ramzy, 2/10).

Quartz: The CMV virus causes microcephaly in babies, and it’s much wider spread than Zika
“…[E]ven in places not hit by [Zika] virus, kids are at risk of being born with microcephaly, or a smaller-than-average brain. Many of those cases are caused by a virus you’ve probably never heard of: Cytomegalovirus or CMV. And unlike Zika, which is currently only being actively transmitted in Latin America and a few other dots on the world map, CMV exists virtually everywhere…” (Campoy, 2/10).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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