Health Highlights: April 8, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Many Americans Lack Knowledge About Zika: Survey

About 4 in 10 Americans say they’ve heard little to nothing about the Zika virus, according to a new survey that reveals significant gaps in knowledge about the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to serious birth defects.

Among people who’ve heard about Zika, 90 percent know mosquitoes can spread the virus, the Associated Press reported.

But even among those with some knowledge of the virus, many don’t know if there is a vaccine or treatment (currently, there is not) or if the virus can be transmitted between people other than through mosquito bites, according to the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey.

Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, according to health officials.

More than half of the survey respondents backed mosquito-control efforts such as pesticide spraying or releasing genetically modified mosquitoes.

The federal government is considering a field trial in the Florida Keys of genetically altered male mosquitoes. When these males mate with females, their offspring quickly die. Fifty-six percent of survey respondents supported introducing these mosquitoes into areas affected by Zika, the AP reported.

Zika is sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean. Adults typically experience mild, if any, symptoms, but the virus has been linked with the birth defect microcephaly, an abnormally small head and brain.

Pregnant women and those trying to conceive should not travel to Zika-affected areas, U.S. health officials warn.

All of the more than 300 Zika cases diagnosed in the United States have involved people who traveled to regions where Zika is present. But, the mosquitoes that can spread Zika live in parts of the United States, the AP reported.

While experts say a Zika epidemic in the United States is unlikely, there is a strong chance that small clusters of cases will occur in states such as Florida and Texas, according to health officials.

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