Zika Virus Now in Puerto Rico; 5 Things To Know About This Mosquito-Borne Virus

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Jan 04, 2016 05:30 AM EST

The mosquito-borne Zika virus is reportedly now affecting Puerto Rico, according to the country's health officials. Here are some facts you need to know about this disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 warning to travelers going to Puerto Rico and other affected nations. There is currently no medication or vaccine that can prevent Zika virus infection so the CDC recommends travelers to take measures to prevent mosquito bites.

This was seconded by Puerto Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi during a statement he released on Thursday.

"I wanted to inform the public that my office just spoke with officials from Centers for Disease Control‎ and Prevention (CDC), who advised us that the first locally transmitted case of Zika virus has been confirmed in Puerto Rico. Like chikungunya and dengue, Zika is transmitted by certain types of mosquitoes" said Pierluisi in a press release. "There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take common-sense steps to avoid mosquito bites, like using repellent and wearing long pants and shirts."

He adds that CDC experts will be visiting the country in January to "educate local physicians" about the virus and disease.

Here are some facts you need to know about the disease:

1.) Zika is a mosquito-borne virus

This means that you get this disease if you are bitten by an infected mosquito. According to the CDC, the disease is mild and it can last from several days to a week. The Zika virus is linked to a number of Brazilian babies born with ver small heads. According to Fox News, the condition was blamed on the surge of the Zika epidemic in the country where pregnant women may have been bitten.

2.) It is caused by the Aedes mosquito

According to CNN, the mosquito carrying the Zika virus is the same one that can carry dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

3.) The symptoms are mild

The symptoms can show up three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include rash, fever, joint pain, and red eyes. It can also cause muscle pain, vomiting, and pain behind the eyes.

4.) There is no cure or vaccine

There is currently no vaccine or cure for the virus and the only way to prevent it from spreading is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. However, the disease is mild and severe cases are uncommon.

5.) Zika virus can become a global epidemic because of global travel

According to CNN's report, health experts say that the virus could be spread across the world via travelers or backpackers. The virus has appeared in Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and the Americas, CDC reports.

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