What is Zika Virus?

Zika Virus is the virus that spreads the zika infection being transmitted by an unpopular vector known as Aedes mosquito (species- Aedes egypti and Aedes albopictus) which are more active during the day time.

Zika virus symptoms
Zika virus symptoms

Zika virus a member of the virus family known as Flaviviridae.

Zika fever is one of the zika virus symptoms. It presents mild or no symptoms. The United States in January 2016 issued a warning guidelines on travelling to the affected countries for pregnant women. The symptoms of zika virus is very similar to those of other viral infections and viruses such as dengue fever, West Nile viruses, Japanese encephalitis.

Zika virus has been found to be existence for a long period, the first evidence of human infection was documented in 1952 in Nigeria and Uganda.

Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual contact. According to a wikipedia source, as of 2016, zika transmission through sex has been documented in about 6 countries namely: Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand and the United States. So also Blood transfusion has also been named as one of the routes through which Zika virus may be transmitted. Zika virus is transmitted from mother to fetus where it affects the growth and development of fetus which affects the brain and surrounding structures severely.

Symptoms of Zika virus

Zika virus apart from its drastic effect on fetal growth when transmitted from mother to the baby, there are other zika symptoms obtainable in mothers who ‘housed’ the virus such as the following:

  1. Malaise.
  2. Conjuctivitis (inflammation of the eye outer lining).
  3. Pains at the joints.
  4. Maculopapular rash (characterized by flat area on the skin covered with confluent bumps).
  5. Zika virus often starts with mild headache.
  6. Fever and back pain.

In children such as infants, zika virus causes microcephalus of the brain (a medical condition characterized by improper development of the brain thus leader to a smaller than normal head) and other severe brain anomalies. Children diagnosed with microcephalus often have poor intellectual disability, poor speech, seizures, short in stature and height, abnormal facial features and poor motor function

Some of this zika virus symptoms do resolve within a short period of time but the damages done to infants are most times irreversible if the virus is not isolated on time.

Zika virus symptoms may be managed with drugs such as paracetamol and aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving pains, inflammations and fever, however, there is no known vaccine or preventative drug available for Zika virus infection.

Other symptoms of zika virus

Other zika symptoms associated with zika virus infection are the following

  1. Musculo-skeletal pain.
  2. Itching all over the body.
  3. Swelling at the smaller joints in the body. This may be controlled by using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

In order to reduce your risk of getting infected, you may have to take the following into consideration:

  1. Zika virus can be prevented by sleeping under mosquito nets at all times.
  2. Wear loose clothing that covers both arms and legs
  3. Use insect repellents. Repellents that contain N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide has been reported to be safe on the skin but it should be used by pregnant mothers and infants above the age of 2 months.
  4. Sexual contacts should be protected between men and pregnant women, especially men who had travelled to countries affected by the virus. Abstinence may be the best option, but condoms can also be used to reduce transmission.
  5. Avoid accumulating garbage and avoid standing water in outdoor containers.

If you feel that you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, do consult with your doctor as there are latest diagnostic tools to detect zika virus now. Ultrasound test may be administered to know if you are pregnant and if there are any changes to the growing fetus.

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