For the past few weeks, the world has worried about the threat of the Zika virus. The World Health Organisation has declared it a global health emergency. And in the lead up to the Rio Olympic Games, Brazilian authorities are worried the virus might affect visitors and athletes. But now that a couple of cases have even travelled back to Australia so should we be worried about it here? Let’s find out.
Zika virus: ジカ熱
WHO(World Health Organisation): 世界保健機関
global health emergency： 国際的に懸念される公衆衛生上の緊急事態
Declare: 宣言する。 公表する
Brazil is known for its celebrations and in just over six months one of their biggest celebrations ever will kick off – the Olympic and Paralympic Games! But as the country gets ready to host, it’s also on the lookout for a pest that could ruin the party.
They’re normally known for their buzz and their bite, but these mozzies are carrying something much worse than a bit of an itch; they’re carrying the Zika virus. Until recently, most people hadn’t heard of it, but it’s actually been around for years. REPORTER: Scientists first stumbled on the virus back in 1947 in the Zika forest of Uganda, hence the name. They accidently discovered a monkey infected with it and a few years later they found the same virus in humans.
It turns out the virus could spread to people if they got bitten by an infected Aedus mosquito. When people get Zika they can end up with a fever, rash, sore joints and sometimes an eye infection. Symptoms can last from a couple of days to a week.
REPORTER: But hang on, scientists say no-one’s ever died from the Zika virus and many people who are infected don’t even realise they have it! So why after nearly 70 years has it become such a big deal?
Well over the years the virus has spread from Africa to parts of Asia and the Pacific, but last year it popped up in parts of South America, Central America and the Caribbean as well. Now, experts say the virus can be found in about 30 countries. In Brazil alone, thousands of people have already been infected and recently experts also started worrying the virus could be dangerous for pregnant women. If they catch it their babies could develop problems like smaller heads and smaller brains.
Researchers are still looking into that link, but just in case, the World Health Organisation has declared it a global health emergency to make sure everyone’s aware of it and to try to stop it from spreading.
The mozzies capable of carrying Zika are found in many tropical areas around the world, even here in Australia in Far North Queensland. But the mozzies here aren’t carrying the Zika virus and authorities are already working hard to keep their numbers down anyway. So even though a few people have come back here from overseas infected with Zika, experts say the virus is very unlikely to spread here.
Back in Brazil, officials are still spraying for mozzies and even handing out tens of thousands of cans of bug spray! But they say pregnant tourists should probably stay away just in case. Meanwhile, athletes are doing their best to stay focused on going for gold at the Olympics.
ALYSSA LAMPE, USA WRESTLER: It’s kind of scary, but there’s nothing really you can do, like if you get bit, you get bit.
It seems most people here aren’t ready to let this virus spoil the buzz.
Questions for discussion
- Before watching this story, discuss as a class what you know about the Zika virus.
- Which big event is happening in Brazil this year?
- What insect carries the Zika virus?
- When and where did scientists first discover the Zika virus?
- Which animal did they find that was infected with the virus?
- What happens when people are infected with it?
- Which parts of the world has the Zika virus?
- Why is the virus dangerous for pregnant women?
- Finish the following sentence: The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus a…
- How likely is it that the Zika virus will spread to Australia?