UA student diagnosed with mosquito-spread virus

By: Kylee Richard

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'I think that information should be passed along to all of the students. That's something we should know more about.'

Shabreka Neal 

Zika reaches Tuscaloosa; UA student diagnosed with mosquito-spread virus

 

A student at The University of Alabama tested positive for Zika, a virus spread by mosquitoes, on June 10.

 

Experts urge caution and testing for Zika, advocate for the use of bug repellents, and encourage the community to remain calm.

 

“I’m now aware that the virus is on campus,” said Shabreka Neal, office associate/program assistant in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA. “That just struck me.”

 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, all 691 of the cases of Zika in America were travel-associated, and later brought to the United States. However, some members of the UA community said they felt misinformed about this serious infection.

 

“I think that information should be passed along to all of the students, that's something we should know more about,” Neal said. “The virus itself and how it’s passed along.”

 

The Zika Virus is spread by an infected Aedes species mosquito, handling of infected bodily fluids, or through intercourse with an infected individual.

 

Claire Carpenter, a University student majoring in social work, has been taking biology summer classes over the summer and, because of those classes, has some basic insight about the virus.

 

“Actually I'm in biology right now for the summer semester and we've sort of been talking about it,” Claire Carpenter said. “All I know is that it comes from a mosquito, which is the same kind of mosquito that carries West Nile virus.”

 

Carpenter also explained how since it’s a virus, “it stays in your body and it produces flu-like symptoms for seven days” and how when the infection enters the body it causes birth defects in pregnant women and women that plan to become pregnant.


UA was notified June 10 that a student who recently studied abroad had tested positive for the Zika virus.

The Zika Virus is spread by an infected Aedes species mosquito, handling of infected bodily fluids, or through intercourse with an infected individual.

“The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Students who recently returned or are currently on a study abroad program in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America or South America were contacted Friday and alerted to the confirmed case,” said Shane Dorrill, interim director of broadcast media relations, in an email. “The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.”

 

Dorrill also said that federal privacy laws prevent UA from commenting on the student’s condition.

 

“However, in the majority of Zika cases, individuals make a full recovery within a week,” Dorrill said. Dorrill also recommended, as precaution, “these students visit the Student Health Center or their healthcare provider to be tested if they are experiencing symptoms.”

 

The Zika Virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Microcephaly occurs when a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth. This birth defect leads to a smaller sized head  compared to the typical head size for babies, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

There are also cases –  two out of the 691 cases in America – that proves that the Zika virus can lead to the ‘Guillain-Barré Syndrome’. This syndrome is a disorder in which the “body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Guillain-Barré Syndrome also causes “varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs” and paralysis, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


If someone is tested for Zika or experience the symptoms pertained to the sickness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges that that individual must “get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, take medicine such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain, that person must not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until the dengue fever can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding, if one is taking medicine for another medical condition, that person should contact a doctor or other healthcare provider before taking additional medication.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention