Sample Psychology Case Study on Zika Virus

Sample Psychology Case Study on Zika Virus

Considered one of the most dangerous viruses in existence, the Zika virus belongs to the flavivirus family that, among others, causes yellow fever, dengue fever, and the West Nile fever. The virus was discovered in 1947, in the Zika forest in Uganda (NIAD 1). The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that cause an infection referred to as Zika fever. Although initially isolated in Uganda, over the years the virus commonly occurred in Asia and Africa, especially along the equatorial belt. However, in modern times, the virus has spread to the Americas and caused the 2015-16 Zika virus epidemics in South America (NIAD). This has called for more vigilance in trying to combat the virus and searching for a cure and vaccine, especially since Zika is more prevalent among children and can be transmitted to a pregnant woman and the fetus. Among children, it often is associated with learning and development issues.

Although rarely, the virus can be spread through intercourse and blood transfusion. The infected do not always get sick and experience any discomfort; only about twenty percent develop fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Interestingly, although the virus leaves the body after a few weeks, women who contract it during pregnancy are at risk for developing fatal complications (NIAD 1). Research has been conducted to ascertain the virus’s effect on children, especially in development and learning and has confirmed that Zika might hamper a child’s learning capacity. Children carrying the Zika virus are often born with microcephaly, which has been linked with developmental problems such as standing, walking, speech and sitting among others. Moreover, microcephaly has been associated with intellectual disability, including decreased learning and functioning ability in daily life. Such children are also affected by balance and movement problems, vision problems, feeding problems and hearing problems all of which affect the development and learning of a child.

However, developmental and learning problems related to microcephaly are not the only such issues that can affect a child exposed to the virus. Children born to Zika-infected mothers are also prone to developmental issues like arthrogryposis and growth restriction. As illustrated by other studies, infants born with the virus tend to have brain abnormalities that cause vision and hearing loss (Brent McDonald & John Woo). In some circumstances, the children affected by the virus at first may not manifest the symptoms but can be at the risk of developing cognitive, physical and mental issues over time (NIAD 1). Although substantial research has been conducted regarding the Zika virus effects on children, scientists are yet to establish why infants and children face developmental issues after contracting Zika. Additionally, scientists lack information on how the virus is passed from the mother to the fetus during pregnancy. Besides, scientists do not possess any information regarding the long-term effects of the Zika virus on children and infants.

Why the virus affects children’s development and learning should be answered through further research. Medical professionals can react promptly and adequately only when the presence of the Zika virus is identified early . However, early intervention is nearly impossible as the virus frequently manifests in impoverished regions (Brent McDonald & John Woo). Lack of social and medical services and parent’s inability to detect developmental issues early enough often hinders or can hinder prompt interventions. Moreover, the relationship between Zika and early intervention is dependent on personal, social and ethnic issues. Most people affected by Zika are incapable or are rendering early intervention, for instance the poor families in Brazil. Socially, the people affected by Zika can also be faced with difficulties, some socities are unable to provide any services or education on early intervention. As such,  children in these socities are more vulnerable to the problems of early development and learning. Early intervention can be affected by ethnicity especially among communities that are not hindered by culture. It is also an issue for broader considerations,  policy makers need to understand the importance of intervention with Zika and enact policies that will allow early intervention in all communities. Every society needs to be considered and dealt with according to its characteristics. In my opinion, intervention is a critical subject when dealing with the Zika virus. I believe that the health sector in any area affected or with the possibility of being affected with the virus, strive to put early intervention procedures and strategies in place. Such actions will prevent any chances of the symptoms related to hindered child development and learning from manifesting in the future.

Works Cited

Brent McDonald & John Woo. Born in The Time of Zika. 9 March Accessed . 11 February 2017.

NIAD. Zika Virus. (n.d.) Accessed 11 February 2017.