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The Worrying Spread of the Zika Virus

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The Zika virus, transmitted by Aedes mosquitos, has made headlines around the world in recent weeks as an epidemic takes hold in Latin America. The virus manifests with mild symptoms for adults (including fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache), but has devastating effects on the foetuses of pregnant carriers. Thousands of infected women have given birth to babies suffering from microcephaly – abnormally small heads. Yesterday the first case of infection within the United States was confirmed, in this case transmitted through sexual intercourse.

The virus has been identified in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, with transmission primarily through contact with the mosquitos. With the emergence of the case in Texas, Zika must now also be considered a sexually transmitted disease, and therefore a global concern.

Because of the conservative nature of Iraqi society, sex education tends to be neglected and public awareness of STDs is poor. Sex education should teach young people about relationships, respect and sex and its consequences from a young age. This includes STDs.

A conservative society doesn’t mean sex outside of marriage doesn’t occur, rather that it is done in secret. And without education about the consequences of unprotected sex, disease can spread.

In the next few months we can reasonably expect cases of Zika in Europe as well as America. Will the virus be identified in the Middle East as well?

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