It wasn’t all that long ago that almost none of us had even heard of the Zika virus, even though it has been observed elsewhere since 1947. But now, almost daily, we are hearing and reading stories about its creep northward from Latin America and its expected arrival in parts of the United States this summer.

Zika is no laughing matter. The effects on embryos caused by it are numerous, extending beyond microcephaly (a smaller cranium). Avoiding regions affected by Zika during pregnancy, mosquito bites, and unprotected sex with anyone who has been in Zika-affected regions are the three basic precautions for all pregnant women and even for women planning on pregnancy in the near future.

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But the many news reports about Zika are building up a health scare similar to ones that pop up almost every year. Killer flu bugs. E. coli outbreaks. Ebola. Dengue fever. HIV. Rotavirus. And so on. There are many deadly and debilitating health concerns out there. They are real and life-altering. But as each of these health scares has shown, the fear of contracting them is far greater than the reality ends up being.

Books like World War Z and movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes draw from our fears of catastrophic outbreaks but remain in the realm of fiction. In all likelihood, what we’re facing is not the beginning of a new Black Plague. Zika is serious, but it shouldn’t keep us awake at night.

Unless it starts turning people into zombies …

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For more info on Zika, visit the Center for Disease Control’s post on it:

Here is a helpful infographic on Zika:

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