Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that was first founded in Uganda in 1947 through a monitoring network of yellow fever. In 1952, it was identified in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of virus Zica disease have been recorded in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific.
- Genre: Flavivirus
- Vector: Aedes mosquitoes
- Reservoir: Unknown
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms are similar to other viral infections such as dengue and chikungunya, including fever, conjunctivitis, malaise, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, and headache. These symptoms are often mild and last for 2-7 days. The incubation period of Zika virus disease is still a sixty-four thousand dollar question, but it is likely to be a few days.
Zika virus is transmitted from human to human through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito that lives mainly in tropical regions. It is the same mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
Zika virus is diagnosed through virus isolation from blood samples and PCR (polymerase chain reaction). Diagnosis by serology could be challenging since the virus can cross-react with other flaviviruses such as West Nile, dengue, and yellow fever.
Mosquitoes pose a significant risk factor for spreading Zika virus infection. Prevention and control depend on reducing the mosquito population and their breeding sites through source reduction and reducing contact between people and mosquitoes. It is advisable to use insect repellent, wear light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, use barriers such as screens or closed doors and windows, and sleep under mosquito nets. It is also crucial to cover, clean or empty containers that hold water such as buckets, old tires, or flower pots so that mosquitoes have no place to breed.
Particular attention and support should be given to those who are not able to protect themselves properly, such as children, the sick or elderly. Health authorities advise that spraying of insecticides should be availed of. Insecticides recommended by WHO can also be used as larvicides to treat large water containers. Travelers should remember the basic precautions mentioned above to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People with Zika virus should take plenty of rest, drink many fluids, and treat pain and fever with proper medicines. If symptoms worsen, it is time to seek medical care and advice. At this juncture, there is no vaccine available.
- Prioritize research into Zika virus by convening experts and professionals.
- Enhance surveillance for Zika virus disease and potential complications.
- Provide training in diagnosis, clinical management, and vector control through a number of WHO Collaborating Centers.
- Develop the capacity of laboratories to identify the virus.
- Prepare recommendations for clinical care and take care of people with Zika virus, in collaboration with partners and other health agencies.
- Support health authorities to improve vector control strategies aimed at reducing infected mosquito populations such as supplying larvicide to handle standing water sites that cannot be handled in other ways, such as covering cleaning, and emptying them.
- Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People infected with Zika virus normally have a mild fever, skin rash, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms often last for 2-7 days.
- No specific treatment or vaccine is currently available.
- The best way of prevention is to avoid mosquito bites.
- The virus circulates in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific.
Zika Virus Infection and Pregnancy
- Is it safe to use insect repellents if I am pregnant?
- Should a pregnant woman who traveled to a region with Zika virus be tested?
- Is it safe to get pregnant after being in a country with Zika?
- Can a pregnant woman with previous Zika virus infection have a baby with microcephaly?
- Can a pregnant woman be tested weeks or months after coming back from a country with Zika virus?
- If I have traveled to an area with Zika virus transmission, should I wait to get pregnant?
Yes. Using insect repellents is secure and efficient. Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding can choose an EPA-registered insect repellent and use it according to the product label.
See your doctor if you are pregnant and develop a fever, joint pain, rash, and red eyes within two weeks after traveling to an area where Zika virus cases have been reported. Tell your healthcare provider about your medical and traveling history.
Usually, Zika virus remains in the blood of an infected individual for about a week. The virus will not be transmitted to a baby who is conceived after the virus is eliminated from the blood.
For the current days, it is not sure if a woman with Zika virus can spread the virus to her infant. Nevertheless, Zika virus infection does not bring a risk of birth defects for future pregnancies.
At this time, for several reasons, routine Zika virus testing is not recommended for pregnant women who have traveled to a country with a transmission. First, there might be false-positive results owing to antibodies that are created against other related viruses. Second, we are not entirely aware of the risk to the fetus if the expectant mother tests positive for Zika virus antibodies. Also, we do not know whether the risk is different in women who do or do not have symptoms because of Zika virus infection.
At this juncture, there is no evidence that Zika virus infection can pose a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies. If you have recently come back from an area with local Zika transmission and are contemplating pregnancy, you should consult your healthcare provider after returning.
Tips for Pregnant Women
Until more is known, experts recommend special precautions for pregnant women or women contemplating pregnancy. Pregnant women in any trimester must consider canceling travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is raging. Pregnant women who have to travel to one of these areas should consult with their doctor first and strictly follow tips to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Since virus Zica is hard to determine and tend to change over time, it is advisable for you to check frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
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