Zika virus: From transmission to prevention, Here’s everything you need to know
If you are pregnant take no risk and don’t travel especially to the places with Zika outbreak and do consult your doctor before travelling.Author : Priyal Mahajan
What is Zika?
Zika is a disease which is caused due to the Zika virus and is spread through the infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).
How is the virus transmitted?
1) Through mosquito bite:
-These mosquito species are the same who spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. They lay eggs in or near standing water in things and prefer staying indoors and outdoors near people and love biting them.
-If a mosquito bites the person who is infected by Zika virus it would also be infected with the virus, it happens only when the virus is found in the blood of the infected person i.e. almost around one week.
-Infected mosquitoes are also the ones that play a significant role in the spread of the virus.
2) From a mother:
-A pregnant woman can transmit this virus to the fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth, which causes microcephaly and other severe deadly brain defects. Other potential health problems are also caused by this virus.
-Zika virus has also present in breast milk, but Zika virus transmission through breast milk not confirmed yet. Additionally, no one knows the long-term effects this virus can cause on young infants infected after birth. Because as a matter of astonishment the pieces of evidence now tells that the advantages of breastfeeding outnumber the risk of the virus spreading through this transition, CDC continues to encourage mothers to breastfeed, even if they were infected.
3) Sexual transmission:
- Zika virus can be passed from a person with Zika before, while, or after the symptoms start or end.
- Studies are yet to study out how long Zika stays in the semen and vaginal fluids of people who have Zika, and for what interval can it be passed to sex partners. Well, Zika can remain in semen longer than any other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood.
4) Blood transfusion:
This cause is clearly reported by a study which goes as 2.8% of blood donors tested positive for Zika and in previous outbreaks, the virus has been found in blood donors in French.
How can you protect yourself?
1) Mosquito bites:
- Use mosquito repellents which have ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol and 2-undecanone.
- Always follow the label instructions. Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, Cover strollers, and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Use bed nets, don’t wash them or expose them to sunlight as this may cause an increase in chances of virus spread.
- Use air conditioning and screens on windows and doors.
- Repair holes and keep an eye to prevent the collection of stagnant water.
2) Sexual Transmission:
- Stop the sharing of sex toys
- Mandatory utilization of Condoms and dental dams can reduce the chance of spread of the Zika Virus while sex or oral sex.
3) While traveling:
-If you are pregnant take no risk and don’t travel especially to the places with Zika outbreaks and do consult your doctor before traveling.
- Take a Zika Prevention kit which must contain: Bed Net, Condoms, Mosquito Repellent, Permethrin spray and Standing water treatment tabs during your trip.
- After your travel, protect yourself from mosquito bites, protect yourself from sex, and see a health professional.
Can Zika affect animals?
Zika was first discovered in a monkey with a mild fever in the Zika Forest of Uganda in the 1940s. A few studies suggest that apes and monkeys infected with Zika may have a fever or mild symptoms.
But only limited studies showed that apes and monkeys infected with Zika during pregnancy can develop severe deadly brain defects.
One study in Indonesia done depicted that horses, cows, water buffaloes, goats, ducks, and bats could become infected with Zika, but there is no evidence. There have not been any reports of pets or other types of animals becoming sick.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are really mild or sometimes no symptoms are shown. The most common symptoms of Zika are Fever, Rash, Headache, Joint pain, Conjunctivitis (red eyes), and muscle pain.
The symptoms usually last for a week and sometimes no symptoms are shown. Hardly any death case is seen through this virus.
How to diagnose the virus?
-To diagnose Zika, a doctor or other healthcare providers will ask about any recent travel and any signs and symptoms.
-They may order blood or urine tests are taken to determine if you have Zika.
Who should go for testing?
- If you have traveled and have symptoms
- If you are pregnant and have symptoms
- Routine check-up if you are pregnant
- If you are Pregnant and have traveled
What is the treatment?
There is no specific medicine or vaccine for this virus.
- All you can do is treat your symptoms, Get rest, drink fluids and prevent dehydration, Take medicine to decrease fever and pain.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before consuming any medication.
Health effects and risks:
Zika may cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon problem in the nervous system in which immune system damages the nerve cells, weakness in the muscle, and rarely, paralysis.
Sometimes, Zika may cause fatal diseases which affect the brain, causing swelling of the central nervous system or a blood disorder which can result in bleeding or slow blood clotting.