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Zika virus has recently been deemed an international emergency. This virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infectious Aedes species mosquito. This species is also responsible for the dengue and chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes have a larger tendency to bite during the day than at night. The infection of a mosquito can be caused through biting one infected individual. The infected mosquito then has the ability to spread the Zika virus by biting other people. The virus is also passed on: from a pregnant female to the foetus (increased reports of infants born with microcephaly); through blood transfusion and in some cases through sexual contact.

Symptoms of Zika virus include: fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, headache and muscle pain. The period between exposure and presentation of symptoms is likely to be a few days to a week. These symptoms can last for a few days to a week and in some cases longer. Individuals generally don’t experience adequate sickness to warrant a hospital visit. The illness usually remains in the system for a few days to a week and in some cases longer. Zika virus is not fatal in adult individuals; however this is not the case of infants affected by this virus.

There is currently no vaccination against Zika virus or specific medication to treat it. Therefore the following advice has been recommended for its treatment:

– Get plenty of rest

– Keep well hydrated with fluids

– Do not take any anti-inflammatory drugs

– Seek advice prior to taking medication for fever and pain relief particularly with any other medication for other medical conditions. Prevent the Zika virus by avoiding mosquito bites.

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All Countries and Territories with Active Zika Virus Transmission CDC

The following is recommended in order to avoid the bites:

– Stay in cool air conditioned places or spaces that have adequate protection (doors and windows) and provide limited access areas to mosquitoes.

– Wear long sleeved and light coloured clothing.

– Use insect repellents according to its labelled directions.

– Treat clothing and other items with permethrin or alternatively purchase permethrin-treated items; however do not use permethrin directly on skin.

Zika outbreaks have previously occurred in: tropical areas in Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands and more recently in thus Americas. It is likely Zika virus will continue to spread.

By Arti Shah

Image by Lim College

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