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Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

The future of human health is under threat with the WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring the Zika virus infection to be a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. Although, it was previously known that the Zika virus was transferred by infected mosquito bites from the Aedes genus, recent reports claim that it can also be transmitted via sexual contact. There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus.

The Zika outbreak

The Zika virus itself is however not a recent phenomenon, with the virus first being isolated in 1947 and deriving its name from the Zika Forest of Uganda. The virus is also closely related to the dengue, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis viruses, with its carriers being the day-time Aedes mosquitoes. Initially, the infection was confined to the narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia, but it spread eastwards across the Pacific Ocean from 2007-2016, reaching the Americas and began infecting people on a global scale, resulting in the outbreak of the 2015-16 Zika virus epidemic.

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Perhaps, the most difficult part about containing the infection is the fact that only one out of five people affected actually shows the symptoms, making it very difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, a pregnant mother may also transfer the virus to her fetus which may lead to birth defects such as microcephaly or incomplete brain development. However for most people, the Zika virus causes only mild, flu-like symptoms, although in adults, it is also connected to the Guillan-Barrè syndrome wherein the immune system nerves are affected, causing muscle paralysis and weakness.

The Zika outbreak began in Brazil, and has spread to other South American and Central American countries, Caribbean island and has climbed upwards to Mexico. In fact in March 2016, Zika was isolated from a 2014 blood sample of a man in Bangladesh as part of a retrospective study. As of August 1, the virus has even reached Florida’s mosquitoes and can travel further north. 14 cases of infection have already been reported in South Florida. Cases of death have also been reported.

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As per reports,“the first reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus” seems to have come from New York City. So far, 15 cases of infection in the US have been confirmed to have been transmitted via sex. Studies also suggest that the virus remains in the semen for as long as 93 days. U.S. travellers are also responsible for bringing Zika back with them with the CDC reporting 2245 travel-linked cases and 8000 local infections in the country.

Measures You Can Take:

Attempts are being made to contain the infection as well as develop a vaccine to immunise the people against the virus. But prevention is better than cure, and here are some steps which we can take to protect ourselves from the deadly infection.

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Prevent Mosquito Bites:
1. Use EPA-registered insect repellants
2. Wear long-sleeved clothes
3. Keep doors and windows closed
4. Empty buckets and flower pots of standing or stagnant water around your house.
5. Keep rooms and toilets clean.

Practise Safe Sex:
1. People living in Zika-infected areas should practise safe sex (including condoms) or abstain from sexual activity.
2. Abstain from sexual activity throughout the pregnancy cycle.
3. If you’re returning from a Zika-infected area, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 8 weeks.
4. If you experience Zika symptoms, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 6 months, particularly if you’re planning a pregnancy.
5. Avoid sharing sex toys.
6. Abstaining from sex negates the possibility of getting Zika via sex.

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Do Not Travel To Zika-Infected Countries
1. Pregnant women should in particular not travel to Zika-infected areas.
2. Do not travel to a Zika-infected place unless it’s an emergency, and if you do, take necessary precautions.

Featured photo credit: naturegirl 78 via flickr.com

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Archita Mittra

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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