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Zika Virus; A Game Changer For Mosquito-Borne Diseases

3 min read
Zika virus

Fast facts about zika

  • Zika is a viral disease that is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
  • Zika can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy causes certain birth defects.
  • Symptoms are generally mild and include rash, fever, conjunctivitis, joint and muscle pain, nausea, malaise general discomfort and headache that last for about 2-7 days.
  • Most patients of zika virus do not develop symptoms.
  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly (small head) and other malformations in children, known as congenital zika syndrome.
  • Zika infection during pregnancy is also associated with other complications of pregnancy such as preterm birth and miscarriage.
  • An increased risk of neurological complications is associated with zika virus disease in children and adults including myelitis, neuropathy and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

How zika is transmitted

  • Zika can be transmitted through mosquito bite. Female Anopheles mosquito carries the virus in her saliva and transfers it to healthy individuals by biting them.
  • From  a pregnant woman to her fetus
  • By the exchange of body fluids
  • Through blood transfusion

Symptoms of zika

In most cases, affected individuals do not show any symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are

  • Fever
  • Rash on skin
  • Allergy
  • Severe headache
  • Joint pain
  • Pain in bones and muscles
  • Red eyes

Symptoms last for several days to a week. The condition of the patient is usually stable and he/she seldom visits the hospital. Once an individual has been infected with zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.

How can you protect yourself against zika

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against zika. The best is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Following are some of the methods for protection against zika.

  • Clothing
  • Try to completely cover your body with clothes.
  • Wear full sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or use pretreated items.
  • Insect repellent
  • Always use EPA (environmental protection agency) registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:

Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Always follow the instructions written on the product’s label.

Insect repellents are proven to be safe and effective for pregnant and lactating women. Avoid using insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months. Do not use products that contain methane diol or lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.

At home

  • Stay indoors and keep the doors and windows closed.
  • Take measures to limit the spread of mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets at nights.
  • Keep your washrooms dry, mosquitoes need water to reproduce.

How zika is diagnosed

To diagnose zika, your primary care physician may order blood and urine tests in the laboratory. Zika virus is suspected in subjects who have a close association with zika patients or live near areas where zika is epidemic.

Treatment of zika virus

There is no available treatment for zika virus or its associated diseases. Antiviral drugs are generally prescribed.

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