Zika Virus: What You Need To Know About It

Zika Virus is a known member of Flaviviridae family and it is spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes in the Aedes genus. This virus was initially discovered in 1947 in Zika valley located in Central Africa. Zika virus later on spread to other parts of the world including Southeastern and southern Asia, Americas and Pacific Island.

Zika virus is known to be dangerous to fetuses and newborns. However, it is not believed that Zika virus is dangerous to children or adults in general. This virus is seen as an emerging infectious disease with potentials to spread to new territories where the Aedes mosquito vector is present. Till date, there has been no evidence of Zika virus in Europe.

On February 1, 2016, World Health organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of clusters of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders in areas like Americas and Pacific region affected by Zika virus.

Zika Virus

Symptoms of Zika Virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one out of five people infected with the Zika virus will get ill. However, most persons affected by this virus rarely show any symptoms and may even be unaware of the presence of the virus in their body.

The symptoms on those who feel ill include:

  • Joint pain
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Red eyes

According to Dr. Robert Amler, “the symptoms of Zika virus are usually mild and only last for a few days or just up to one week”. Typically, the symptoms of Zika virus last between 2 to 7 days, according to WHO.

Risks of Zika Virus

Those at the risk of Zika virus are fetuses and newborns. It is very rare to see deaths and hospitalization that has been attributed to Zika virus. However, birth defects have been associated with the Zika virus. These defects include severe brain damages in newborns.

Zika virus can lead to miscarriages. Fetuses which are in the first trimester are at the serious risk of Zika virus according to the Pan American Health Organization. Newborn babies are at the greatest risk of Zika virus, according to Dr. Amler, although this is yet to be proven. However, in Brazil, there is increase in newborns with microcephaly which is a serious birth defect. These babies were born by mothers infected during their pregnancy with Zika virus. A mother can give a child the virus during childbirth, however, there is yet to be any record of transmission from mother to child through breast milk, says CDC.

Treatment of Zika Virus

Currently, there is no medication or vaccine for the treatment of Zika virus infections. The infection is often diagnosed after a series of blood tests.

Mostly, when Zika virus is found in the body of human being, a long period of rest and fluids is usually prescribed to the patients to aid the body naturally combat the infection. The symptoms of Zika virus such as fever can be treated with Acetaminophen or paracetamol.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

It is officially considered that Zika Virus is not contagious and transmitted from human to human. Unofficial assumption is that the virus has begun to transmit via the blood (eg. through blood transfusions) and semen (sexual relations) and from mother to fetus. Physicians are very concerned about the fact that the virus can transmit from human to human. This would mean faster expansion and lower the possible containment options.

The best way to avoid being infected by Zika virus is to stay away from countries known to be experiencing an outbreak. As of January 27, 201, countries known be affected by Zika virus include Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Martinique, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Martin, Honduras,  Mexico, Panama, Paraguay,   Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela, Samoa and Cape Verde.

Jessica Miller
About Jessica Miller 104 Articles
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