Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness. Aedes mosquitoes carry the infection. This virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, but it can also occur through intrauterine infection. Like dengue-carrying mosquitoes, Aedes is also most active during day time. These mosquitoes can survive both in an outdoor and indoor environment. Certain Aedes species can transmit Zika. But the major one is Aedes albopictus which are also called yellow fever mosquitoes.
The zika virus arrived in the U.S. in 2016. The local transmission was reported in Texas, Florida, Miami, and Brownsville. Uganda in 1947 reported the case of the virus. The outbreak did not occur outside Africa until 2001. Mosquitoes bite infected people and then pass that virus to other people.
Zika virus mainly affected pregnant women because of neurological abnormalities and microcephaly. If a pregnant woman traveled to any virus-infected place or came in contact with the virus-infected person there are chances, there are chances that they experience no symptoms but the virus can pass through the placenta and infect the unborn child.
The virus gives birth defects to babies. They are born with brain damage or underdeveloped heads. Zika virus also gave the symptoms of Gullian-barree syndrome, a disease in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. Some studies show that the virus is found in serum, blood, urine, fluids in the eye, and the saliva of the infected person.
Symptoms of the Zika Virus
A zika virus-infected person can experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms like joint pain, fever, red eyes, headache, or vomiting. About 1 in 5 people experience symptoms of the zika virus. Symptoms of the zika virus are similar to other mosquito-borne diseases.
People infected with the zika virus do not get sick enough to get hospitalized. As the symptoms of the virus are mild, so it becomes difficult to detect the infection.
Testing of Zika virus
Your health care can ask for your travel medical history to detect the infection. If you or your partner traveled to the country where is a zika virus outburst, then tell your health care about your travel trip in detail to confirm the infection. Make sure that you provide every detail of the travel plan.
If your health care detects any symptoms, they ask for your blood and urine samples to detect the diagnosis. These samples are used to check the other mosquito-borne illness.
If you are pregnant and you or your partner recently traveled to the virus-infected region, there are high chances that you do not experience any symptoms, but it can transmit to your fetus. So ask your health care for the testing. Your doctor can recommend you the procedures like
- Ultrasound, to check the brain problems in the fetus
- Amniocentesis, a condition in which a needle is inserted into the uterus to take the amniotic fluid samples to detect the virus.
There is no specific treatment for the zika virus. It has very mild symptoms like other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. So, to get relieved from the symptoms drink plenty of fluids, water and take proper rest. Over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol or others are effective for relieving joint pains.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of zika, seek your health care immediately. Do not take any naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or aspirin until you are not diagnosed with dengue. these medicine ns can worsen your situation or increase the risk of the virus.
A pregnant woman has a major risk of zika virus infection. If you are pregnant and have traveled recently to any virus-infected region, there are chances of experiencing no symptoms but the virus can infect your baby. So, after traveling seek your gynaec for the checkup. It is advised for the pregnant women who are diagnosed with the virus, to go monitoring of the fetus growth and anatomy after every 4 weeks.
There is no vaccine developed yet against the Zika virus. Researchers are still working on it. But till then, you follow prevention to protect yourself. If you or your partner are planning to travel to places where virus exposure is high, these simple tricks will help to reduce the risk of virus infection.
- Mosquitoes carrying the zika virus are active during the day, but the risk is at night also they can bite you at night. So, always sleep in a mosquito bed or net, especially when sleeping outside or in an open area.
- Apply mosquito repellent on your shoes, clothes, and camping gear, or mosquito net. Buy clothes which are made of permethrin. Use a repellent that contains picaridin, DEET, or repellent that contains active ingredients, which Environmental Protection Agency mentions. Use those repellents that are safe for you and a pregnant woman both.
- Infected mosquitoes are usually present around your home. They are primarily found in still water or water collected in containers like pots, animal dishes, or empty tires. It would help if you cleaned these containers once a week to reduce the population of mosquitoes. Always keep yourself and your surroundings hygenic to lower the risk of infection.
- If you plan to go out in mosquito-infected areas, wear protective clothes like full pants, shoes, socks, and full-sleeved shirts.
- When you are inside the house, use an air-conditioner or door and window screening when mosquitoes are most active. It will lower the risk of mosquito bites.
- Do not use the repellent containing lemon eucalyptus oil or para-menthane-diol on children who are below 3 years.
- For children, younger than 2 months use a mosquito net of protection. Insect repellent can harm their skin. Do not spray it on hands, mouth, eyes, or on irritated skin.
If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, follow these tips to reduce the risk of infection
- If you are pregnant, try to avoid traveling to virus-infected places, or if planning to get pregnant talk to your gynaec about you and your partner’s coming travel plans. the doctor will recommend you recommend you wait for approximately 3 to 4 months after the travel plan.
- If you or your partner are living in a virus-infected region or traveled to such places, it is highly recommended to have safe sex. You can use protection during sexual activities.