Zika virus, also known as Zika fever, is an infectious disease that is a rising risk. It is mainly caused by a virus that is transmitted to the human body via the bite of Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes are also responsible for causing yellow fever, chikungunya, and dengue. This mosquito-borne flavivirus was first identified in monkeys in 1947 in Uganda. In 1952, for the first time the virus was found in humans, in the countries of Tanzania and Uganda. After that, various outbreaks of the Zika virus have been reported in Africa, Asia, America, and the Pacific. The last major outbreak of the virus was in 2015.
Transmission of Zika virus
The primary mode of transmission of the virus is via mosquito bites of the Aedes family of mosquitoes, especially the Aedes aegypti variety that are found in tropical regions. These mosquitoes bite in the daytime, normally between early morning and late afternoon. It can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child, the fetus. The virus can also be sexually transmitted, and the probability of its transmission via blood transfusion is being confirmed.
Signs and symptoms of Zika virus
Symptoms of Zika fever are not evident immediately and the virus might already be present within the body for a period of time, usually known as its incubation period. These symptoms are mild to moderate and patients suffering from it rarely need to be hospitalized. Some of the common symptoms of Zika fever are:
● Pain in the joints
● Pain in the muscles
● Red eyes or conjunctivitis
The above-stated symptoms last for a few days, ranging from 2 to 7 days.
Complications of Zika virus
It has been found that if a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus, the fetus can be affected such that the virus causes microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain, along with other brain defects. The virus can even lead to miscarriage or stillbirth in the infected pregnant mother. Additionally, in the areas that have been affected by the Zika virus there is an increase in the number of cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a sickness of the body’s nervous system that is quite uncommon.
Diagnosis of Zika virus
Presence of Zika is determined by studying a patient’s symptoms, travel history within a recent time period, and results from tests (a urine test or a blood test). Because the symptoms of Zika virus are similar to those for normal mosquito bites, chikungunya, and dengue, further tests are required to rule out the possibilities of other infections and diseases.
Treatment for Zika virus
Because there is presently no medicine or vaccination available for Zika fever, treatment includes medications such as acetaminophen to relieve pain and fever, along with drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated and plenty of rest.
Prevention of Zika virus
With a lack of vaccine against the infection, prevention is recommended, especially against mosquitoes.
● Long, covered clothing must be worn, preferably treated with permethrin.
● Insect repellents must be used, but care must be taken around children.
● At home, mosquito nets or air-conditioning and ventilation can keep the mosquitoes away. Also, preventative steps must be taken to keep mosquitoes away from the house—indoors and outdoors.
● Sexual transmission can be curbed by using condoms or avoiding sex.