Anatomy Dissects Zika Virus

By Isabel Perez ‘17

Just as anatomy classes have learned of its effects, the Zika virus has made its way into the United States.

The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of the disease include mild fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis, and vomiting.

Under the supervision of Dr. Trevor Stokes, anatomy and physiology teacher, students were expected to investigate and present projects on the Zika virus. They were given a raft sheet, which would guide them in conducting their research. On that raft sheet, students had to select a role, an audience, a format, and a guiding question.

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Zika Cell Virus spreading amongst people

The roles included being a virologist (studies how viruses work), epidemiologist (studies how diseases spread), obstetrician (doctor who focuses on pregnancy issues), public health advocate (helps the public understand health issues), politician (develops policies to support public health), or other (created their own role).

Students needed to choose who their audience was going to be, such as expecting mothers, peer group, activists, governmental agents, etc. They had to be creative for this project and think in which form they were going to deliver their information, whether in a brochure, newspaper article, video, cartoon, etc. They were encouraged to develop a guiding question that they’d want to have answered. For example: What model best explains current and potential future locations of Zika virus within the United States?

“I enjoyed learning about the Zika virus because it was a fun assignment since we made a video,” said Amanda Xiao ‘17.

After creating their question, they were asked to begin researching and attempt to find the answers to their questions. As students worked in groups, in accordance to their roles, they learned more and more everyday as they gathered information. For instance, the symptoms associated with Zika, how it’s transmitted, how it’s linked to microcephaly, and how it affects the population.

Melody Luo ‘17 said, “Since the Zika virus is a pandemic I had little information on it but after Dr. Stokes informed us about Zika, I gained enough information to be cognizant of how I can prevent myself from getting Zika.”

Within the first week of infection, Zika can be found in your bloodstream and if an Aedes mosquito were to bite you, it too is now infected. The infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people, including pregnant women. Males can also be infected with the Zika virus and then sexually transmit the disease to their partners. A pregnant woman can pass on the disease to her unborn fetus or during delivery.

In a recent article, CDC scientists announced that there is now enough evidence to conclude that infection of the Zika virus, during pregnancy, is a cause of severe fetal brain defects. It has been linked to problems in infants, such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. One of the many is microcephaly, a birth defect/condition when babies have a smaller head compared to other babies within the same age group/sex. Today, scientists are still studying for other potential health problems that the Zika virus may cause during pregnancy.

“I feel researchers are not looking into the Zika virus as much as they should. This virus could change a person’s life and not for the better. Learning about the Zika virus was sad, especially since most people are unaware of it. However, I think it’s important for people to be aware of diseases, especially new ones,” said Daniella LaBarbera ‘17.

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