Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness

Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Menopausal Women Aggravated By Naturally Occurring Heart Fat

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New research was able to pinpoint the type of heart fat that is linked as a risk factor for heart diseases in menopausal women with regards to estrogen level.

The types of fat surrounding the heart include the following:

  • Epicardial fat: This type of fat covers the heart, and is located between the outside of the heart and the pericardium membrane that encases the heart.
  • Paracardial fat: This is found outside the pericardium anterior to the epicardial fat, and has no known protective function for the heart.

Led by Assistant Professor Samar R. El Khoudary of Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, the clinical evaluations involved taking blood samples from478 women aged 51 years old and older who were not on hormone replacement therapy. Participants were from Pittsburgh and Chicago, who enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, according to a news release.

It was found out that a greater portion of paracardial fat after menopause was evident due to the decline in estradiol. The increased epicardial fat, however, was said to be a risk factor related to obesity.

The new study clearly identifies that an increase paracardial fat is not specific to menopause but can also have a negative impact towards the health of women, increasing the risk of triggering coronary artery calcification. A higher presence of epicardial and paracardial fats is evident in postmenopausal women.

Because of this, careful evaluation should be done to be able to determine specific ways on how to help menopausal women avoid heart disease.

What could possibly decrease the heart fat volume is regular exercise, proper diet and by undergoing bariatric surgery. El Khoudary is taking heed in carefully evaluating hormone replacement therapy with regards to its effect on the type of heart fat in the hopes of preventing heart diseases to menopausal and post-menopausal women.

Health & Wellness

Obese Parents May Cause Poor Development in Kids

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A new study by the National Institutes of Health revealed a link between obesity in children of obese parents and developmental delays.

Findings of the research revealed that children of obese mothers were likely to fail tests of fine motor skill such as controlling small muscle movement particularly in the fingers and hands. In the case of children of obese fathers, they are more likely to fail tests involving social competence. Meanwhile, those who were born to extremely obese parents are likely to fail in problem solving ability tests.

Compared to children of normal weight mothers, children of obese mothers are 70 percent at risk of failing the test indicators of fine motor skill by age 3. Children of obese fathers, on the other hand, are 75 percent more likely of failing personal and social domain indicators upon reaching the age of 3. Children of both obese parents are three times at risk of failing problem solving indicators by the age of 3.

The study, which appeared in Pediatrics, was conducted by a team of scientists from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. According to Dr. Edwina Yeung, Ph.D, previous studies centered on the pre- and post-pregnancy weight of the mother.

“Our study is one of the few that includes information about fathers, and our results suggest that the weight of the father also has a significant influence on the development of the child” said Dr. Yeung via a news item. She was also an investigator in the NICHD’s Division of Intramural Population Health Research.

Dr. Yeung and her coauthors cited research which showed that 1 in 5 pregnant American women suffer from overweight or obesity.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Kratom Strains and How To Identify Them

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Kratom is a tree-like plant that is commonly found in Southeast Asia that belongs to the family of plants as coffee. It has also been used in Thailand and its neighboring Asian countries as an herbal remedy because of its opiate-like effect. It is also known to help as treatment for withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction.

Kratom does not belong to the list of controlled substances and can be bought through the Internet and head shops. This substance comes in different forms such as loosed chopped, capsules and compressed tablets.

Researchers have found more than 20 biological active chemicals in the drug which can pose potential risk on drug dependency. It is now banned in some Asian countries despite its long history of use as herbal medicine due to its addictive potential.

Effects of Kratom

When taken in low doses, kratom effects may take place within 10 minutes and may last from 60-90 minutes. Most kratom users say that they feel a euphoric effect while others have reported to have experienced an uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. Its total effect is similar to amphetamine but with much less intensity. Symptoms include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased libido
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased sociability
  • Decreased inhibitions

At doses of between 5-15 mg, users may experience the following:

  • Analgesia
  • Dream-like state
  • Drowsiness
  • Cough suppression
  • Decreased in symptoms of opioid withdrawal

For those who take more than 15 mg, the user may experience extreme sedation and loss of consciousness.

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Kratom Strains Based on Veins and Stems

Kratom can be categorized according to different strains, as well as the varieties of color of veins and stems. The differences of these strains provide varying effects. The strength of kratom may be identified based either on the location or its color strain.

Here are the kratom strains based on stem and vein color:

White and green strains

These strains induce energy and productivity. Leaves from white stem kratom produce more stimulating effects than the red vein variety. The green leaves varieties are believed to provide clearer thinking and endurance. This is the type of strain that most athletes prefer to use.

A number of studies showed that the green vein variety aids in treating anxiety and depression.

Red strains

This kind induces calmness, sedation and relaxation, which is the opposite of the two other strains. After the initial rush of energy, the calming effect takes place. This variety is often used to provide pain relief and as a substitute for opiate detoxification. It is said to provide a euphoric feeling to users.

Kratom Strains Based on Location

kratom abuse

Kratom strains based on location are as follows:

Maeng Da

This is one of the most well-known forms of kratom. Maeng Da literally means “The Pimp”, and was named almost 20 years ago. It was believed that this strain was genetically modified to be able to provide its effects.

It is a popular choice among working men. It has forced growers to produce exceptionally potent and stimulating kratom to be able to provide for the demanding needs of laborers. Grafting became a popular technique in some Indonesian plantations, with the goal of producing the strongest kratom.

This type of kratom has white, green and red varieties, wherein the white and green are more popular.  Maeng Da is popular with those two varieties because it provides powerful mind-boosting and energy boosting effects accompanied with analgesic effect.

This strain has mood-lifting effects. Unfortunately, individuals may develop tolerance easily because its effect builds up quickly.


A large part of kratom supply comes from this island, second to Maeng Da in popularity. It has four strains where the red and green strains are the most popular.

  • Red Borneo: This strain has a sedating and soothing effect. It is a popular choice for pain management.
  • White Borneo: This is fairly popular to alleviate feelings of lethargy, depression, and lack of focus.
  • Green Borneo: This is the most popular of all Borneo strains because it helps enhance over-all mood to a euphoric level. It is known to remove aches and pains in chronic conditions.
  • Blended Borneo: This is a combination of all three strains. The individual effects of each strain complement one another.


This is commonly confused with Borneo kratom, which is more popular. It has three kratom varieties, with the red and green being more popular.

It is one of the most potent and cheapest strains of kratom, which makes it widespread. Some Borneo strains are shipped from the southern or western Borneo and are labeled as Bali as it would refer to the shipping hub of the strain.

  • Red Vein: This is the most popular of all Bali strains because of its effects, including analgesia, relaxation and anxiety relief, which is very similar with the Borneo strain.
  • Green Vein: Its effect is similar to the red vein variety but with less potency. This is good for those who want pain relief without wanting to have such high level of sedation.
  • White Vein: It is the least popular because of its low potency.

Indo kratom

The White Indo Kratom is the most popular among the three strains of Indo Kratom. This type of kratom can be found in Indonesia and some parts of Bali and Borneo.

There are different strains that grow in various regions with varying effects.

  • Super Indo: It is a very unique strain because it seems to retain the pain killing and relaxing effects of a red vein, as well as providing some very mild energetic effects.
  • Red Vein Indo: It has a very powerful analgesic, sedating and mood-lifting properties.
  • White Vein Indo: It is known for its “clean” analgesic effect, which helps in dealing with mentally strenuous tasks easier.


Malaysian strains are not as popular as the Indonesian strain because it is illegal in the country. The Super Green Malay strain is very popular for its bright green appearance as well as for proving energetic and mind-boosting effects.

  • Super Green Malaysian: It has a variety of effects and well-balanced properties such as anxiety relief, mood-lifting property, focus, pain relief, and energy boost.
  • Red Vein Malaysian: This strain provides more pain relief and sedating properties than the Super Green Malaysian variety.
  • White Vein Malaysian: It has the most stimulating and energetic effect among all Malaysian strains.


This is the less popular strain of Kratom because it is illegal in Thailand.  Most of the Thai-labeled kratom comes from Indonesia. Banning of kratom has nothing to do with its use but rather as a competition to opium business in the 1940s.

  • Red Vein Thai: This is most popular strain among all Thai strains because of its analgesic effect.
  • White and Green Vein Thai: These are helpful in treating depression.


This type of strain is less well-known among all strains. It is often a difficult strain to characterize by effects due to the differences in vein type effects. Among its uses are pain relief, insomnia treatment, anti-stress and mood-lifting properties.

  • Red Vein Sumatra: This variety has anti-stress properties, pain relief, insomnia relief, relaxation and a more sedating effect than the white variety.
  • White Vein Sumatra: A smaller dose of this variety will provide a stimulating and energetic effect. At large doses, it provides relaxation and pain-killing effect.


It is a province located in Borneo. The difference of this strain from the Borneo kratom is not well-known.

  • Red Vein Kalimantan: This can provide a calming effect that can last for a few hours even with just a low dosage. It is one of the well-known strains that provide a very relaxing effect.
  • Green Vein Kalimantan: It is becoming a widely accepted recreational sedative, and analgesic by users in the U.S. It aids in muscle relaxation and provides energy-boosting properties.
  • White Vein Kalimantan: This is the least well-known of all Kalimantan varieties.


This type of kratom is processed in a different way and because of this, it provides a different kind of flavor and an increased in alkaloid percentage.  This is a very rare strain of all varieties but is slowly gaining popularity in the market.

It is also known as the “Tropical Blend” for its calming and relaxing characteristics. It is also helping in improving sleep. Its length of efficacy is much longer compared to other strains.

[NOTE: This article is meant for informational purposes, and not a promotion of kratom or its various strains and forms.]


Health & Wellness

Study: People Who Feel Inferior Tend To Eat Fattier Foods

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Bobby Cheon and Ying Yi Hong, researchers affiliated with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Chinese University in Hong Kong, published a paper in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences about how people who feel socially inferior tend to eat more food leaning towards the fattier kinds. The researchers conducted four tests that led to the same conclusions.

Other studies in the past have shown how people from low-income families tend to be more obese compared to those who are from the upper class of society. The reason for this may be brought about by the feeling of being inferior, according to a news release.

In the research, participants were asked to picture themselves at different levels of society. A questionnaire was given out to ask them about their food of choice at a buffet and the kinds of food that they crave for. In a similar study, volunteers were asked to participate in a buffet and can eat whatever they want.

The results revealed that those who were asked to think of themselves belonging to the lower spectrum of society ate more when offered with real food.

This may show how people from the lower end of the society may tend to eat more and eat fattier food because they do not have the ability to have this type of food all the time. When there is an opportunity for them to eat, they would rather choose food that is high in fat.

The choice of eating unhealthy food over the healthier ones among these people may be due to their accessibility to chips and other unhealthy kinds of food because that is the only type of food that they can afford to buy.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Health Experts Warn Against Alcohol Consumption During The Holidays

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As people celebrate the holidays, health experts warn consumers against unhealthy alcohol consumption during this season, based on their report shared in a news item.

According to experts from UC Davis Health System in California, most people who attend parties are more likely to let loose and drink wine, which makes then more vulnerable to its harmful effects. Moreover, heavy drinkers may also use this season as a chance to drink in excess especially since it is just a one-off thing.

If you cannot do away with drinking this season, here are some of the things you need to consider to avoid high alcohol consumption during the holidays:

  • Drink in moderation so as to prevent alcohol-related injuries or any other health issues.
  • Don’t pressure anyone to drink unless you have a plan of sending him home safely or hiring cab service.
  • Make your party fun for everyone by providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Always ready a room to let your guests sleep in when they have had too much to drink.

It might be fun to catch up with your old friends and it might be even more fun to put your hair down and have a good time. However, you need to remember that nothing spells disaster as much as drunk guests who don’t care about safety and health.


Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Triclosan Ban Highlights Needs For Safer Anti-Bacterial Chemicals

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Triclosan, an anti-bacterial compound commonly used in soaps and cosmetics, has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration since September 2016. In a write-up published by the American Society for Microbiology, authors Peter McNamara and Stuart Levy insisted that the triclosan ban is not the only stand-alone priority. Other factors such as triclosan’s long-term impact and the potential risks of substitute chemicals should also be given focus.

Triclosan’s use in soaps and other anti-bacterial products is widely encouraged since it is meant to target bacteria. However, its use in these products has become a growing concern since triclosan is considered one of the biggest contributors of anti-bacterial resistance. Despite the chemical’s anti-bacterial properties, bacteria can adapt and resist the chemical over time, an activity known as cross-resistance.

According to McNamara via a news article, the existence of biocides in the environment promote antibiotic resistance. Triclosan exists in rivers, lakes, sediment, and soil then adheres to biosolids, which is recycled organic matter used in agriculture. Triclosan then chooses antibiotic resistance in the microorganisms that break these biosolids down.

This is the reason why McNamara and Levy are encouraging efforts geared toward the creation of new chemicals in place of triclosan that will be safer for the environment. McNamara stated that these new chemicals should not contribute to the current problems already caused by triclosan and that it should demonstrate safe and effective qualities.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Heavy Alcohol Consumption in Young Adults Lead To More Health Issues Later In Life

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According to earlier studies, more than half of American youth aged 12 to 20 have tried alcohol drinking and bingeing. More recently, a new study revealed that underage drinking and heavy alcohol consumption show an increased risk in developing alcohol problems and health issues in later life.

Research reported in this news article showed that young adults suffering from alcohol dependence have a high likelihood of developing two to three medical conditions by the time they reach 60 years old. Comparably, non-drinkers may suffer from only one or two medical conditions.

Moreover, heavy alcohol drinkers may also have a higher risk of depression. In a research conducted by Sean Clarkin together with Drug-Free Kids, out of 600 U.S. male veterans, roughly half of them had drinking problems when they were young. Researchers who reviewed the short-term and long-term health records of the veterans showed that there is clear evidence that a person’s life can improve dramatically when they quit on heavy drinking.

Researchers also pointed out that the health records of people who drink heavily when they were young were linked to 44 cases of heart diseases and diabetes.

The study shows an excellent point and evidence that people who suffer from alcohol dependency and alcoholism for more than 5 years may be at risk of lower immunity, which may result to various physical and mental health issues.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Study: Alcohol May Be Able To Help People With Clinical Depression

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Can a few bottles of alcohol help those who are suffering from clinical depression? New research seems to say so.

According to a study published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, alcohol might be the best quick fix for those who are suffering from clinical depression. They found out that alcohol can produce the same biochemistry as that of antidepressants, as reported in a news release. This means that alcohol produces the same type of neural and molecular changes evident in drugs prescribed to rapidly alleviate clinical depression.

Kimberly Raab-Graham, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the research study, stated that there is now a biochemical and behavioral data supporting the hypothesis that alcohol can benefit those with major depressive disorders.

It is important to note that the study does not suggest that alcohol should be regarded as an effective treatment for depression. Raab-Graham also reiterated that there’s a potential danger in self-medicating with alcohol because it usually leads to addiction and health complications.

The study only shows that alcohol has the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants when tested in animals, which resulted to favorable response. Raab-Graham stresses that additional research is still needed in this area to further provide a biological basis for the natural human instinct to self-medicate.


Health & Wellness

Married Diabetics Have Better Weight Management Than Singles

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A research conducted by Dr. Yoshinobu Kondo and his colleagues at Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine and Chigasaki Municipal Hospital showed that diabetics who are married are less likely to gain weight as opposed to single individuals who have the disease. The study also revealed that married people who have diabetes are less likely to be overweight by 50 percent, according to a news release.

The researchers studied medical records of 270 patients with type 2 diabetes from 2010 to 2016. The pool of people included 180 married patients who were living with their significant other, as well as 90 single patients. The results showed that married people had a lower average body mass index compared to singles.

Along with body mass index, married people also had lower levels of HbA1c (a measurement of blood sugar control) and lower rates of metabolism syndrome compared to the single patients. The risk of metabolic syndrome was lower by 58 percent for married men compared to single men.

Despite that, the researchers were unable to find evidence to directly link marital status and metabolic syndrome in women.

The findings were presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Munich, Germany. The findings presented are considered preliminary until its publication in a peer-reviewed journal.


Health & Wellness

What We Know About The Zika Virus So Far

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The United States and the Pacific is experiencing an ongoing and rampant spread of Zika fever, caused primarily by the Zika virus in the middle of 2016. The outbreak of the Zika virus started in Brazil in early 2015, which consequently spread to some parts of Northern and Southern America and affected several parts of the world.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization has issued a statement saying that the Zika virus outbreak has become a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is evident with the rise of Zika-induced birth defects and neurological problems.

Origin and Rise to Infamy

The Zika virus was derived from the virus family of Flaviviridae and it is mainly spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito-borne Flavivirus was first recorded in Uganda last 1947, and it is loosely related to the following viruses: Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, Dengue and Yellow fever.

To date, the virus has already spread to more than 20 countries in the United States. With the sudden rise and explosion of the virus in the United States, it has clearly caused a cloud of fear among the affected regions because although the symptoms and effects are generally mild, there’s a greater concern with studies showing that there’s a strong link between Zika virus and brain defects in babies.

Virus Transmission

Zika virus is transmitted to people through a bite from the mosquito, which consequently becomes infected when it feeds on a person already carrying the virus. Aside from mosquito bites, it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse even before the symptoms start to manifest.

Some other ways in transmitting the virus is through exposure or through blood transfusion. Moreover, Zika virus can be passed from pregnant woman to the unborn child, thereby causing some birth defects. Those who are infected with the virus show various mild symptoms such as fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, joint pain, headache, and muscle pain. These symptoms may last from a few days to a week.

Health Problems and Risks of Zika Virus

The incubation period of the Zika Virus disease might take a few days to a week, and it might cause varied symptoms. According to Amesh Adalja, spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, about 20 percent of people infected by Zika virus exhibit symptoms.

There are various health effects and risks brought about by the Zika virus. Here are some of the health-related issues that you need to know about:

  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause different defects such as microcephaly and severe fetal brain defects.
  • Current CDC research suggests that GBS is strongly associated with Zika; however, only a small proportion of people with recent Zika virus infection have been diagnosed with GBS.

Zika Virus and Gullian-Bare Syndrome

The recent outbreak of Zika virus in South America has been on the rise since the middle of 2016, with several studies showing that Zika virus is linked to birth defects especially when pregnant mothers are infected.

A rare and progressive neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome is triggered by infection to the Zika virus. This neurological syndrome and disorder occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your nerves, resulting to weakness and paralysis. Most patients can recover over time; however, some experience long lasting effects like numbness and difficulties in movement.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, health officials have reported that there is a significant increase in the number of cases of GBS with countries that have Zika virus endemic. Health officials and researchers reported to have as much as 877 percent increase on the incidence of GBS. An official report evaluated that between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016, there has been a total of 164,237 confirmed and suspected cases of Zika virus infections, with 1,474 cases of GBS.

Testing for Zika

Getting tested for Zika virus is different from testing for flu or pregnancy. There are only a few accredited and certified laboratories that can test for the Zika virus and as a result, specimens have to be shipped to a different location to proceed with the lab testing.

If your city health department doesn’t have any laboratory to do the testing, it will coordinate with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please note that the processing and results may take longer at roughly more than 2 to 4 weeks, especially when the spread of virus increases.

Zika virus testing is only recommended for some people, and it is only recommended that you undergo Zika testing if you have lived or traveled to an area known to have Zika outbreak or if you had sex with a partner who lives in or has traveled to a Zika-infested area.

An IgM-positive or Zika ELISA test can only be indicative and diagnosed on flavivirus infection. Furthermore, the methods available to test for Zika antibodies cross-react with dengue antibodies. Here are some tips on how to get tested for the Zika virus:

  • Determine the need for testing. If you think you’re experiencing Zika virus symptoms, seek the help of your doctors. Your doctor may decide to test you for Zika or other viruses.
  • Get the approval of Health Department before submitting samples.
  • Collect the samples to be forwarded for testing.
  • If your health department or laboratory will perform the actual testing, the results will be sent to your doctor.

Facts and Figures on Zika Virus

  • In 2007, several islands in the Pacific region have experienced outbreaks. Zika virus disease is gradually becoming an infectious disease. In 2015, there are reported outbreaks in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
  • According to the World Health Organization, there is a scientific concurrence that the Zika virus causes microcephaly, GBS, and congenital nervous system malformations.
  • Phylogenetic analysis reports that there are two Zika virus lineages: African lineage and Asian lineage.
  • The first noted case of Zika virus in the United States occurred in January 2016 at Harris County in Texas.
  • There are 45 countries and territories with confirmed indirect transmission of Zika virus disease in different U.S. states since 2015.
  • Fifteen countries and territories in the United States were reported to have cases of congenital syndrome associated with the Zika virus. Moreover, there are three additional countries that were reported to have suspected cases of congenital syndrome associated with Zika virus, and these are Barbados, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
  • On August 9, Canada confirmed to have two cases of maternal-fetal transmission of the Zika virus, including severe neurological congenital anomalies.
  • In Asia, Malaysia reported its first case of Zika virus infection in a woman who was travelling to Singapore.

Treatment and Prevention of Zika Virus

Generally, there are no specific medication and vaccination for the Zika virus. To treat the virus, symptomatic measures and treatment should be done to treat the symptoms that come with it. Those infected with Zika virus are advised to treat the symptoms and to get plenty of rest and fluids. Please take note to avoid drinking aspirin and non-inflammatory drugs to reduce the risk of internal hemorrhage or bleeding. Take medicines such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.

Diagnosis of the Zika virus is largely based on the patient’s travel history, symptoms and even test results. To confirm the diagnosis, blood or urine test must be done to quickly check if you’re positive with the virus. Zika virus can remain in semen for more than 93 days and it can last longer in other bodily fluids like urine, blood and vaginal fluid.

To prevent you and others from contacting the Zika virus, it is best to protect yourself and your loved ones from mosquito bites especially since there is no medical vaccine to prevent the virus from spreading.

Here are more tips on how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing with permethrin.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants and always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Do not use insect repellant on babies under the age of 2 months old.
  • Avoid travelling in areas with Zika outbreak.
  • Use condoms to avoid sexually transmitting the virus to another person.

The Zika virus can be indicative of a more severe case especially with the explosion of the outbreak. The best way to prevent Zika is to avoid mosquito bites, and everyone can eventually help control mosquitoes. The government and health organizations can control the outbreak by developing mosquito control plans and to evaluate effective methods and actions needed to prevent or lower down infection to the virus.

Meanwhile, you and your neighbors can also take precautionary steps to reduce the spread of mosquitoes by properly following water disposal. Pregnant women who live in or have traveled to regions with higher Zika incidents may be extremely risky. It is most important to always exercise precautions.

Furthermore, pregnant women are advised to subject themselves to ultrasound scans moe frequently. This method is the most reliable and effective way in detecting microcephaly before the baby is born. Birth defects aren’t usually identified until the second trimester, and that is why it is important for couples to use all necessary preventive measures.

The government and health organizations can protect you by activating Emergency Operations Centers so that scientists can monitor cases of the virus, work on better solutions, and to freely run studies and tests on pregnant women who test positive for Zika virus.

As of the moment, the National Institute of Health is already developing a vaccine that can potentially help put a stop to the rising number of incidents. Scientists are tweaking a vaccine that was initially developed for the West Nile virus, and they expect to launch a safety trial for it within the year.