Virus Provokes Brazil to Urge Against Pregnancy

February 21, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. contagion / kənˈteɪ dʒən / (n.) – a disease spread by direct or indirect contact
Example: The contagion spread among the villagers through their water supply.  

2. coincide / koʊ ɪnˈsaɪd / (v.) – to happen in the same place and time
Example: The outbreak of the disease coincided with the international conference.

3. benign / bɪˈnaɪn / (adj.) – not harmful
Example: His condition was benign.

4. grave / greɪv / (adj.) – serious or threatening
Example: She felt that she was in grave danger in the building so she left.

5. stagnant / stæg nənt / (adj.) – not moving
Example: The water became dirty because it was stagnant for so long.


Read the text below.
The recent outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil has forced the government to urge women not to get pregnant for the meantime.

The Zika virus, first identified in east Africa in the mid-20th century, was spotted in Brazil last year. The contagion quickly spread and the total number of Zika cases in 2015 are estimated to range from half a million to over 1.3 million cases.

The Zika plague coincided with the rise of microcephaly, a disease that causes abnormally small heads among newborns, in the country. Zika only causes relatively benign symptoms in adults and children such as mild fever with rash, pinkeye, and muscle and joint pain. On the other hand, microcephaly can lead to grave developmental problems and shorter lifespans. Although the connection between the virus and the condition is still under investigation, the discovery of the Zika virus in a baby born with microcephaly was enough for Brazil's Health Ministry to take action.

One course of action taken by Brazilian authorities was to urge women not to get pregnant for the meantime. Another was to combat the insect that spread the virus: the Aedes aegypti   mosquito, the same mosquito responsible for the spread of yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya. This was done by getting rid of the stagnant pools used as breeding grounds by mosquitoes, and by advising people - women in particular - to use insect repellant and stay indoors.

Since it was first identified last year, the Zika virus has spread throughout Brazil and across the region. Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency after it identified at least 22 cases of people infected with the virus. The United States has also not been spared, with 10 cases identified in Texas.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are some dangerous diseases that have spread in your country in the past?
·         What are some actions done by your government to stop diseases?

Discussion B
·         How do diseases spread from country to country?
·         Would you still travel abroad if you knew dangerous diseases are spreading all over the world? Why or why not?

February 21, 2016