ZIKA VIRUS

Zika virus/infection is similar to Dengue, Yellow Fever and Chikungunya. It is mainly transmitted by day time-active Aedes mosquitoes – Aedes Aegyptii and Aedes Albopictus. This disease was first reported in 2007 in Pacific.

Spread and Transmission:

Zika virus spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito in a healthy individual. It can also spread from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby, usually in the first trimester of pregnancy. Sexual transmission, blood transfusion, lab exposure, organ or tissue transplantation, may also spread zika virus.

Symptoms and Clinical Findings:

Symptoms may begin to appear after an incubation period of 3-7 days. They include mild fever, headache, skin rash with pain, muscular pain, conjunctivitis, etc.

Since Zika is transmitted from pregnant mother to her unborn baby. Babies are born with shrunken skulls called Microcephaly – a congenital deformation of the skull that compresses the infant’s brain.

Diagnosis:

  • Zika virus has been detected in whole blood (serum and plasma), urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), amniotic fluid, semen and saliva.
  • The presence of zika virus can be confirmed by using nucleic acid testing (NAT) such as reverse transcriptase – polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) for RNA.

Recommendations:

Pregnant women or who are expecting to be should take the following precautions:

  • They should avoid travelling to any areas where Zika is spreading/prevalent.
  • They should strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Treatment:

There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for the infection.

  • The best protection is to try to avoid mosquito bites. This can be done by using insect repellent, wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible, using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows and sleeping under mosquito nets.
  • It is also important to empty, clean, or cover containers that can hold even small amounts of water, such as buckets, flower pots, etc. to prevent mosquito breeding similar to Malaria.
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