The Zika Virus is an epidemic spreading like wildfire in many areas of the world, but predominantly South American countries. This virus is similar to Dengue and has been spreading at astonishing rates. Although this virus is not new, the drastic increase in its infection rate in the past few years has put it on red alert. Not much research has been done on the virus but the breakout in South American countries has put it on the radar for investigation regarding long-term effects. Despite the history of Zika, new information regarding the virus is crucial to help prevent and treat the disease. The Zika virus has multiple mild symptoms on the person it affects, but the most detrimental effects are on the babies of women who are pregnant while they are infected with Zika virus. The two literary sources that I looked at were a popular press article and a case study. The article “Did the Zika Virus Cost This Woman Her Baby” by Maggie Fox and Judy Silverman was published by NBC and would be considered a popular source. The case study “Potential Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus” by Didier Musso et al. was published by a scientific journal called Emerging Infectious Diseases. Although both of these pieces emphasize similar dangers about the Zika Virus, differences in the audience and language create two different purposes of the pieces.
Image from: http://www.statnews.com/2016/01/19/zika-cdc-new-guidance-pregnant-women/
The language used in both of the pieces varies drastically. The language used in the popular piece is very easy to understand whereas the language used in the case study is very technical. For example, when both of the pieces talk about scientific testing it is evident that the case study is using a lot more technical terms. The popular source uses language such as “tests on the placenta from the pregnancy she lost show evidence of the virus” to explain scientific testing regarding Zika. Whereas the case study uses language such as “We tested blood and semen RNA extracts using real-time reverse transcription PCR (rRT-PCR) as described using 2 primers/probe amplification sets specific for ZIKV.” The differences in language can be noted due to the different audiences that each of the pieces are appealing to.
The audience that the popular piece is addressing is not familiar with what Zika Virus is. The piece is published in NBC thus the audience is large and their academic backgrounds vary tremendously. Readers need no prior knowledge other than knowing how to read in English to follow the article. This article’s title, “Did the Zika virus cost this woman her baby?” is a very attention grabbing title. This would especially catch the attention of women who are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant. This article does not even answer the question that the title asks, however this article does explain the speculations that surround unborn children and the Zika virus. The majority of the article presents the potential risks of Zika Virus and unborn children with mothers who have contracted the Virus. With this quote, “recommend that everyone in Zika zones protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellant, wearing long sleeves and pants, getting rid of water where mosquitoes can breed and using screens and air conditioning” it is evident that the authors are writing to warn women.
The case study published by Emerging Infectious Diseases contained very sophisticated language that is geared towards people educated about science. There is a lot of technical language used about technology and the disease that an ordinary person would not familiar with. The authors know that people that are reading journal entries in a journal like Emerging Infectious Diseases are not just ordinary people. They are people very interested and invested in the topic and who are most likely going to have a background in science that allows them to follow such complicated studies. This piece focuses on a case study done in order to see if Zika Virus can be transmitted sexually. They had experimental trials and did extensive testing that showed that Zika Virus could indeed be transmitted sexually. Language such as, “The rRT-PCR results were positive for ZIKV in semen and negative in blood, and confirmed by sequencing of the genomic position 858-1138 encompassing the prM/E protein coding regions of ZIKV ” proves that this piece was written for a scientific audience.
Both of these sources are similar in the aspect that they both emphasize the seriousness behind transmission of Zika to unborn children. The popular piece states that “evidence is growing daily that the once-obscure and seemingly harmless virus is causing severe birth defects that can cause miscarriages, stillbirths or a lifetime of disability for babies that survive.” The case study mentions an example where a male in Colorado contracted Zika but “because the wife of the patient had not traveled out of the United States during the previous year and had sexual intercourse with him 1 day after he returned home, transmission by semen was suggested.” Although both these pieces go into detail about the dangers associated with Zika virus if an unborn child is infected with it, the purpose of these pieces is very different.
The popular source’s purpose is definitely to create awareness about the risks of Zika virus and to warn the public. Simple language is used in this article in order to cater to a broad audience. It is directed towards pregnant or potentially to-be pregnant women. It continuously warns about the dangers of Zika Virus. For example, the article states “Right now the most important thing for Americans to know is if you are pregnant, not to travel to a place where Zika is spreading.” The purpose of the case study is different. However, the purpose of the case study was to inform the readers of Emerging Infectious Diseases about the seriousness of sexual transmission of Zika to unborn children. The whole entry focuses on the experiment done to test if Zika can be transmitted sexually, but the importance of the issues are brought in light via the example of the male in Colorado. It proves that this is something that is worth studying and needs more attention because of the detrimental effects it could have on children because of this new pathway of transmission. The piece explicitly states, “more investigation is needed ” in order to prove the importance of research on the transmission of Zika Virus.
Both these pieces emphasize the seriousness behind the Zika Virus. The popular source has the purpose of creating awareness about the effects Zika has on unborn children and ways to prevent transmission. The case study takes a more scientific approach and has a purpose of creating awareness in the scientific community about the newly discovered method of the transmission of Zika virus. They present information about how dangerous the Zika Virus is for unborn children of affected mothers, but the purpose of each piece is very different. The authors support their purpose through reaching out to different audiences and tailoring the language of each piece to the audience they are trying to engage. The language and the audience really help to fulfill the purpose that each piece has. The topic is the same and some of the same dangers are presented in each piece but they are not written with the same intention.
- Fox, Maggie, and Judy Silverman. “Did Zika Cost This Woman Her Baby?” NBC News. N.p., 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
- Correction: Vol. 21, No. 2.” Emerging Infectious Diseases3 (2015): 552. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.