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Study Reveals Vulnerable Areas in the US for Zika Virus

Mar 24, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

Scientists, medical professionals and public officials are alarmed by the continued global spread of the Zika virus. With the looming threat, the United States may not be completely safe, as a new study revealed that areas in the country can be considered as perfect breeding grounds for the virus-carrying mosquito.

The scientific journal PLOS Current: Outbreaks published a research that reinforces prior projections about the virus spreading in the country.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR, has recently conducted several weather-based disease transmission simulations to predict the possible outbreaks of the virus in the U.S.

While the Aedes aegypti, the particularly species carrying the virus, are now more common in South America, the mosquito may soon spread in humid states, such as Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.

Computer simulations by NCAR researchers show that as summertime nears, conditions in certain states along in the East Coast and in the South allow for more suitable mosquito breeding grounds.

Impoverished areas with stagnant water and dilapidated houses are also vulnerable, as mosquitos lay their eggs in collected water.

Highly populated areas, such as New York City, is also prone to the virus, due to people traveling and visiting from countries with Zika outbreaks.

Lead scientist Andrew Monaghan, however, said that even if Zika spreads across the U.S., the threat may not be as grave as it is in Latin America. He added that this is because most Americans live and work in sealed homes and offices that are usually with air conditioning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to publish updates in its website on Zika reports in the U.S. At present, there are two confirmed cases of the Zika virus recorded in Hawaii, according to state officials.

Aside from Zika, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is also known to carry the dengue virus.

The Zika is transferred to humans and other primates through bites, or particularly, through the drawing of blood with a syringe-like injection.

The widespread fear of the Zika virus is justified due to strong evidence that the virus is causing babies to be born with microcephaly or abnormally small heads. Pregnant women are at high risk.

Recent reports also show that it can be spread through sexual intercourse.

Currently, the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus is geographically isolated in South America because of the region's humid and hot weather. So far, Brazil is the stronghold of the virus where there are at least 1.5 million cases of confirmed infection.

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