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13 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

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By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

What is Zika?

Zika is a virus first discovered in 1947 and named after the Zika forest in Uganda. The first human cases of Zika were detected in 1952, but until last year there had been only isolated outbreaks occurring mainly in tropical locales.

How is it transmitted?

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by drinking the blood of a person infected with Zika, and then spread the disease to other people.

A man infected with Zika can transmit the virus through sexual intercourse. Also, people can be infected if they are given a blood transfusion tainted with Zika.

Who faces the greatest health risk from Zika?

Four out of five people infected with Zika do not develop any symptoms. Those who do most often suffer from mild symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes.

The true risk of Zika is to a developing fetus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that Zika can cause terrible birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus.

What kind of birth defects does Zika cause?

Microcephaly is the most common birth defect caused by Zika, and it involves abnormally small development of the head and brain. Zika also causes other brain-related birth defects, and can result in miscarriage, according to the CDC.

What are the chances Zika exposure during pregnancy will cause microcephaly?

Not every fetus exposed to Zika develops a birth defect. Women infected with Zika have given birth to apparently healthy babies, although health experts can’t guarantee that these babies won’t develop problems later in life. No one knows what the odds are that a birth defect will occur. This is one of the CDC’s ongoing areas of research.

What can a woman who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant do to protect herself?

Women of child-bearing age who live in an active Zika region should protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent when outside, and staying indoors as much as possible.

Women should use condoms or refrain from sex with a male partner if they are living in an active Zika area. They also should follow these precautions for at least 8 weeks if the man has traveled to an active Zika area, or for at least 6 months if the man has been diagnosed with Zika.

What can be done if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika?

There is no cure or vaccine for Zika. Pregnant women infected with Zika will be monitored by doctors, who will closely track fetal development.

Will a Zika infection threaten all future pregnancies?

The CDC has said there’s no evidence that a past Zika virus infection will endanger future pregnancies. It appears that once the virus has been cleared from a person’s bloodstream, it poses no risk to any subsequent pregnancies.

What other illnesses can Zika cause?

Zika has been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare disease of the nervous system in which a person’s immune system attacks nerve cells. The disease causes muscle weakness and, less frequently, paralysis. Most people recover fully, but some have permanent damage and about one in 20 die.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has said it is very likely that Zika causes GBS, given that the syndrome also is triggered by a number of different bacterial or viral infections. However, the link has not been confirmed. The CDC is investigating.

Where in the U.S. is Zika likely to become active?

Zika already is active in the territory of Puerto Rico, where one death has been reported, as well as American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Public health officials expect Zika to strike first in the continental United States in Florida, Louisiana or Texas, once the mosquito season gets underway. The A. aegypti mosquito can range as far north as San Francisco, Kansas City and New York City, although health officials have said infections that far north are unlikely.

What can I do to reduce the risk of Zika becoming active in my neighborhood?

People can help reduce their area’s risk by eliminating mosquito habitats from their property. Get rid of any source of standing water, such as buckets, plastic covers, toys or old tires. Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools and potted plants once a week. Drain or fill with dirt any temporary pools of water, and keep swimming pool water treated and circulating, according to the CDC.

Report any mosquito activity in your neighborhood to your local mosquito control program.

What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to Zika?

The CDC recommends that people contact their health care provider if they are suffering from Zika-like symptoms, particularly if they are pregnant. Tests are available that can confirm Zika infection.

Is there a vaccine for Zika?

No, but the CDC is working with pharmaceutical companies to ramp up research into a vaccine for the virus.


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21 Reasons Sleep Should Be Your #1 New Year's Resolution

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Happens-When-You-Dont-Sleep-42881759

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Sleeping is one of those things that we all say we’re going to do more of . . . and then never actually do. But it’s a more serious problem than you think. While we were making resolutions about drinking more water and adding more sleep to our schedules, we began to wonder what would happen if we didn’t follow through on said resolutions. We know what happens when you don’t drink water (it’s scary), but what about when you don’t sleep?

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As it turns out, the effects can be crazy serious — and weight gain isn’t even the worst of it.

Milder Effects

In the earlier stages, you’ll experience effects like:

Stress
Weakened immune system
Lowered sex drive
Forgetfulness
Impaired judgment and higher risk of accident
Blemishes, dull skin, puffiness, or dark circles

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Severe Effects

When you consistently don’t get enough sleep, it takes a serious toll on your body — it can even lead to death.

Greater chance of coronary heart disease and/or stroke
Greater chance of developing diabetes
Higher risk of cancer
Worsened symptoms of depression
Worsened symptoms of anxiety
Weight gain
Shortened life span and increased risk of death

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Symptoms of Fatigue

Before you notice the effects of skipping zzzs, you’ll likely notice these symptoms that may be indicators you have a serious problem.

Tiredness (seems obvious, but . . . )
Headaches
Faintness or dizziness
Aches, chills, or muscle soreness
Loss of appetite or nausea
Unusual irritability, moodiness
Physical fatigue and muscle weakness
Blurred vision

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Even Optimists Tend to Expect the Worst

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Even if you consider yourself to be pretty upbeat, it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of dread as you wait to hear about uncertain news. As the moment of truth draws nearer, people often find themselves increasingly convinced that bad results are ahead.

These emotions may feel stressful and unhealthy, but a new study suggests they’re totally normal. In fact, this instinct to brace for the worst can actually be protective and serve as a buffer against potentially bad news, say researchers from the University of California Riverside.

In previous studies, it’s been recognized that, as individuals wait for their respective results, students become increasingly convinced they’ve failed an exam, patients become increasingly convinced they have a terrible disease, and voters become increasingly convinced that their candidate will lose an election.

RELATED: Optimism Can Help You Live Longer

Kate Sweeny, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Riverside, wanted to see if this was true of optimists and pessimists alike. “Intuition might suggest that some people are more likely to brace than others,” Sweeny said in a press release. “In particular, happy-go-lucky optimists would seem immune to the anxiety and second-guessing that typically arise as the decisive moment draws near.”

So she and her co-author performed nine different experiments in their lab and in real-life settings. Some involved college students anticipating rankings of their attractiveness from peers, for example, while others involved law-school graduates awaiting the results of their bar exams. All participants answered questions beforehand to determine their natural disposition.

The researchers’ findings, published in the Journal of Personality, were “counter to intuition,” Sweeny said. “Optimists were not immune to feeling a rise in pessimism at the moment of truth. In fact, not a single study showed a difference between optimists and pessimists in their tendency to brace for the worst.”

RELATED: Happy People Make Their Spouses Happier

There was a difference, unsurprisingly, in overall predictions: Optimists started out with more positive expectations than pessimists. But everyone in the study tended to shift those expectations downward over time.

This may be because not getting one’s hopes up can be a natural defense. “If you expect the worst, you can lessen feelings of shock and disappointment if things don’t go as you hoped,” Sweeny told RealSimple.com, “and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if they do.”

So if you feel down right before a big announcement, Sweeny says you shouldn’t necessarily fight those feelings. Rather, she says, we should all try to be more like the optimists in this study, and save our pessimism for these strategic moments.

“It’s generally good to be optimistic about the future,” she says. “Optimists are happier and healthier in lots of different ways, and it’s true that worrying too much or for too long can lead to anxiety and rumination. But in these final moments before you get big news, optimism can be really treacherous.”

In other words, she says, making sure you’ve done everything you can to ensure your chances of success—and then putting off your worries until those final moments—may be the best balance you can strike. And if you do feel like the world’s about to end while you wait, take heart in knowing that that’s normal, too.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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5 Times Ronda Rousey Got Real About Her Body

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It’s been a big week for Ronda Rousey. On Sunday the MMA fighter was crowned one of three cover models for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issueand became the first athlete ever to be featured on the cover. Then on Monday, she appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show and bravely revealed that she experienced suicidal thoughts after her shocking UFC title loss to Holly Holm last fall. “I was sitting in the corner and I was like, What am I anymore if I’m not this?” she explained in the emotional interview.

Opening up about such a heartbreaking experience couldn’t have been easy. But Rousey’s honesty is just one of the many reasons we love her. Not only is she an incredible athlete, she’s also a feminist icon and an outspoken advocate for body positivity. Here, five of the quotes that have earned her legions of fans, and made her the role model we always wanted.

RELATED: The 10 Best Quotes from Ronda Rousey’s “Ask Me Anything” Reddit Interview

On why she wanted to model for SI

“[Sports Illustrated] has given me so much opportunity,” she said in a behind-the-scenes video at her SI cover shoot. “[They] set a precedent for what society expects out of women’s bodies, and they’re really setting a really healthy and positive standard for all women.” This isn’t the first time that Rousey has modeled for the Swimsuit Issue. In a similar behind-the-scenes video last year, she spoke about the importance of featuring women with diverse body types in the media. “I was so happy to have this opportunity because I really do believe that there shouldn’t be one cookie-cutter body type that everyone is aspiring to be,” she said. “I hope the impression that everyone sees in the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is that strong and healthy is the new sexy. And that the standard of women’s bodies is going into a realistic and socially healthy direction.”

On her ideal weight

After the 2015 Swimsuit Issue hit newsstands, Rousey told Cosmopolitan.com that she chose to gain weight before she stripped down for the photo shoot“I felt like I was much too small for a magazine that is supposed to be celebrating the epitome of a woman,” she said. “I wanted to be at my most feminine shape, and I don’t feel my most attractive at 135 pounds, which is the weight I fight at. At 150 pounds, I feel like I’m at my healthiest and my strongest and my most beautiful.”

RELATED: 5 Times Ronda Rousey Seriously Inspired Us

On being called “masculine”

Last August Rousey won the UFC 190 against previously undefeated fighter Bethe CorreiaIn a video promoting that fight, Rousey responded to body-shaming critics“Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than f—ing millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as f— because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose.”

On accepting her body

Despite her natural toughness, Rousey isn’t immune to body image issues. “I absolutely loathed how I looked until I was around 22 years old,” she said in an interview with ESPN.com last year. “What changed for me is I was always thinking I wanted to make my body look a certain way so I would be happy. But when I made myself happy first, then the body came after. It was a journey of self-discovery and trial and error.”

Rejecting the idea of a one-size-fits-all body type helped Rousey find self-acceptance: “The image in my head was the Maxim cover girl,” she said. “In the end, instead of making my body resemble one of those chicks, I decided to try to change the idea of what a Maxim chick could look like.”

RELATED: The 10 Best Body-Positive Quotes from Female Athletes Who Posed Nude for ESPN

On developing a healthy relationship with food

In an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last year, the fighter mentioned her complicated history with food. “It feels very liberating to [be] free of the guilt that used to come with every meal,” she wrote. “I feel like I have so much extra space in my brain now that I’m not constantly thinking about the next meal and trying to eat as much as possible every day while still losing weight. I feel amazing. I (think) I look amazing. And I just ate some bomb-ass french toast this morning.”

Not long after, Rousey elaborated on her struggles with disordered eating in an interview with Elle.com. Participating in judo tournaments led her to develop an “unhealthy relationship with food” in her teenage years, she explained. She had to hit a certain number on the scale to compete. “I felt like if I wasn’t exactly on weight, I wasn’t good-looking,” she said. “It was a lot to get past, and now I can say that I’ve gotten through it, I’ve never been happier with how I look [or] more satisfied with my body. It was definitely a journey to get there.”

Rousey added that she hopes she can encourage others struggling with similar issues to seek help. “These are issues that I think every girl deals with growing up, and it’s something that’s largely ignored and unaddressed. I would like that to be different for girls growing up after me. It shouldn’t have been as hard as it was.”

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What to Do If You Catch a Tummy Bug

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Stomach-Bug-Symptoms-Treatment-7454914

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There are so many unpleasant procedures (think dentist and ob-gyn visits) that seem like a party when compared to the symptoms of a stomach bug. From stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, to the muscle aches, headaches, and fever, these bugs are just dreadful.

Although the actual vomiting element only lasts a day, but sometimes up to three, a stomach virus can leave you feeling tired, achy, and with digestive and intestinal troubles for up to 10 days after. A stomach bug really wrecks a person, and it can take over a week until you begin to eating your normal diet.

Unfortunately the best thing you can do when downed by a virus is let nature take its course and let your body do what it needs to do. You probably won’t feel much like eating, so stick to clear fluids such as water, seltzer, ginger ale, ginger tea, and ice chips. If you do feel like eating a little, stick to bland foods like bread, crackers, broth, or white rice. Avoid dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol, since they’ll just aggravate your entire digestive system. Rest as much as you can (between visits to the bathroom), and if you’re really feeling awful, taking some Pepto Bismol, Tums, or other over-the-counter stomach-easing remedies may help.

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You do need to watch out for dehydration caused by losing too many fluids. Not only will dehydration make you feel worse with symptoms including dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue, but it could also lead to seizures or permanent brain damage if left untreated. Be sure to drink clear fluids often — even popsicles help. Sip small amounts, so they’re more likely to stay down. And just keep in mind that with time, you’ll be back to your old self.

Once you experience a stomach virus, you want to do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again. Since these viruses are highly contagious, wash your hands often, especially when you’re touching public items such as door handles and elevator buttons. Also, keeping up with your healthy diet and regular exercise routine will strengthen your immune system, so if you come in contact with a bug, your body can fight it off.

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Men Exposed to Zika Virus Should Use Condoms for Next 6 Months, Says CDC

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Men who know they’ve probably been infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus should not have sex without a condom for six months, according to new federal health guidelines released Friday.

Numerous cases of sexually transmitted Zika infection—which is thought to cause severe birth defects in some cases—have been confirmed in the United States, said officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Mounting evidence supports a link between Zika and microcephaly, and possibly other problems such as miscarriage,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, co-lead of the Pregnancy and Birth Defects Team of the CDC’s Zika Virus Response Team, said during an afternoon news conference.

“The rate of these conditions is not known yet,” she said. “We know there is a risk, but it is important to remember that even in places with active Zika transmission women are delivering apparently healthy infants.”

The goal of the latest CDC guidelines is to give doctors the best advice possible to share with their patients about pregnancy planning and sex, Jamieson added. However, they are are based on the best evidence to date, and not on a definitive understanding of Zika, she noted.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that’s been tied to thousands of cases—mainly in Brazil—of a severe birth defect called microcephaly. In microcephaly, a newborn’s head is smaller than normal, with the potential for long-term neurological damage.

While the bulk of Zika cases leading to microcephaly may occur via maternal infection during pregnancy, cases of sexual transmission from a man to his female partner have come to light, the CDC said.

A team led by CDC investigator Alexandra Oster notes that, as of March 18, there are now “six confirmed cases of sexual transmission in the United States associated with this outbreak.”

Just how long might the Zika virus linger in semen? According to the report, semen collected from one man still showed signs of the virus 62 days after he began to exhibit fever linked to Zika infection.

Zika infection is usually a transient, mild illness in adults, and many cases may occur without symptoms, experts say. However, because of the risk to babies, the CDC is advising that men with known or suspected infection with Zika refrain from sex—or only have sex with a condom—for six months after a diagnosis.

The agency also advises that, for couples involving a man who has traveled to or resides in an area endemic for Zika:

• the couple refrain from sex, or use condoms during sex, throughout the duration of a pregnancy.

• they refrain from sex, or use condoms during sex, for eight weeks if the man has returned from travel to a Zika-endemic area but has not shown signs of infection.

• for couples living in a Zika-endemic area, they refrain from sex or engage in sex only with a condom for as long as active Zika transmission persists in that area.

The latest guidelines also recommend that women who know they’ve been infected, have no symptoms but have recently been to a Zika-endemic area, or think they might have been exposed via sex, should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant.

The CDC has also advised that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If a pregnant woman must travel to or live in one of these areas, she should talk to her health-care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

On Friday, CDC officials also said that 273 U.S. residents in 35 states have now tested positive for infection with the Zika virus.

“All are travel-related or sexually transmitted cases,” Jamieson said. “In addition, there have been 261 cases reported from Puerto Rico, 14 cases from American Samoa and 11 cases from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these, 99 percent are presumed to be locally transmitted by mosquitoes in the territories.”

In the majority of Zika infections, symptoms included rash (97 percent of cases), fever and joint pain.

“Zika virus disease should be considered in patients with acute onset of fever, rash, arthralgia [joint pain], or conjunctivitis [pink eye] who traveled to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission or who had unprotected sex with someone who traveled to one of those areas and developed compatible symptoms within two weeks of returning,” the CDC said.

And earlier this month, scientists reported more evidence supporting a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly.

Researchers now believe that one in every 100 pregnant women infected with the virus during the first trimester will give birth to a baby with the birth defect.

The Zika virus is suspected of causing an epidemic that started last spring in Brazil, where there have been more than 5,600 suspected or confirmed cases of microcephaly.

Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can occasionally lead to a fatal form of paralysis.

Speaking earlier this month, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said that “we are learning more about Zika every day. The link with microcephaly and other possibly serious birth defects is growing stronger every day. The link to Guillain-Barre syndrome is likely to be proven in the near future, and the documentation that sexual transmission is possible is now proven.”

First discovered in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus wasn’t thought to pose major health risks until last year, when it became clear that it posed potentially devastating threats to pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is not expected to pose a significant threat to the U.S. mainland, federal health officials have said in the past.

In Puerto Rico, however, the situation is “of great concern,” Frieden said.

“Puerto Rico is on the frontline of the battle against Zika,” said Frieden, who had just returned from the island. “And it’s an uphill battle.”

By next year, Frieden said, there could be hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika in the territory, and “thousands of infected pregnant women.”

In a separate report released Friday, the CDC stressed that effective contraception needs to be made much more readily available to Puerto Ricans. In a statement, the agency noted that, “approximately two-thirds of pregnancies in Puerto Rico are unintended, indicating a potentially unmet need for access to birth control.”

The agency said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will boost its efforts at family planning education in Puerto Rico, so that women can help prevent unintended pregnancies — especially those jeopardized by Zika infection.

The Zika virus has now spread to over 38 countries and territories, most in Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Health Organization estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year.

More information

For more on Zika virus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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Scratching a Mosquito Bite May Help Zika Virus Spread Faster in the Body

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TUESDAY, June 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The inflammation caused by a mosquito bite helps Zika and other viruses spread through the body more quickly, a new study in mice suggests.

“Mosquito bites are not just annoying—they are key for how these viruses spread around your body and cause disease,” said senior study author Dr. Clive McKimmie. He is a research fellow in the School of Medicine, at the University of Leeds in England.

“We now want to look at whether medications such as anti-inflammatory creams can stop the virus establishing an infection if used quickly enough after the bite inflammation appears,” he said in a university news release.

The researchers studied the bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads infections such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya. When a mosquito bites you, it injects saliva into your skin. The saliva prompts immune cells to swarm the site.

But instead of helping, some of the immune cells get infected and replicate the virus, according to the study.

“This was a big surprise we didn’t expect,” McKimmie said. “These viruses are not known for infecting immune cells. And sure enough, when we stopped these immune cells coming in, the bite did not enhance the infection anymore.”

The findings suggest that it might be possible to use anti-inflammatory drugs to treat mosquito bite inflammation before any symptoms begin.

“We think creams might act as an effective way to stop these viruses before they can cause disease,” McKimmie said.

Experts note that research on animals often fails to produce similar results in humans. However, If this approach proves effective, it could be used against a large number of viruses, the researchers suggested.

Right now, the epicenter of the Zika outbreak is in Brazil, where close to 5,000 babies have been born with a devastating birth defect after their mothers were infected with Zika early in pregnancy. The affected babies have microcephaly, which is when an infant is born with an abnormally small head and brain, and other neurological problems.

U.S. health officials are increasingly worried that Zika will strike the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and Gulf Coast states on the mainland as the mosquito season starts to heat up this summer.

“Nobody expected Zika, and before that nobody expected chikungunya,” McKimmie said. “There are estimated to be hundreds of other mosquito-borne viruses out there and it’s hard to predict what’s going to start the next outbreak.”

The study was published June 21 in the journal Immunity.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Zika virus.

This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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