PHOTO: The Zika virus should still be a concern for travelers. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
A new study published Monday reports that infections from the Zika virus found in Canadian travelers who visited the Caribbean, South and Central America were more common and stronger than researchers anticipated.
According to CTVNews.com, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a report which examined travelers who visited the Canadian Travel Medicine Network with illnesses following trips to Zika virus zones.
The study examined 1,118 patients between October 2015 and September 2016 and found that 3.7 percent were infected with the Zika virus. A similar number of travelers were also found to be infected with dengue fever.
The main difference doctors found between the travelers with Zika and Dengue was that 10 percent of those with Zika developed severe complications, including two people developing Guillain–Barre Syndrome and two pregnant women transmitting the virus to their unborn babies.
Of the travelers with Zika, 88 percent developed rashes and 80 percent reported fevers. In addition, about half of those infected complained of muscle or joint pain and about 17 percent developed pink eye.
One example of the study was a 35-year-old Toronto-area woman identified only as Jennifer who contracted the virus during a vacation in Nicaragua last August. After doctors improperly diagnosed her, she was rushed to the hospital and the Zika virus was finally confirmed.
Not only did Jennifer develop Guillain-Barre syndrome, but she was also forced to relearn how to walk. The virus turned her life upside down, and she is now working to warn Canadians that the Zika virus is not just a threat to pregnant women.
Canadian researchers claim that while the preliminary findings are acceptable for now, large-scale testing on the Zika virus and those infected with the illness need to be conducted to fully understand how the virus impacts people.