The World Health Organisation declared the Zika Virus a Public Health Emergency in February, 2016.
We've summarised all you need to know.
What is Zika Virus?
- Zika is a virus that causes a mild illness in humans.
- It was first isolated in a forest in Uganda in 1947
- It is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes
Where is it found?
- There is a current outbreak in Central America, South America and the Carribean.
- The World Health Organisation announced Zika as a Global Health Emergency in February, 2016.
How is it spread?
- Zika Virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
- The mosquitoes bite at both day-time and night.
- Can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
- It has also been found to be transmitted sexually.
What are the Symptoms?
- Most people infected by Zika Virus have no symptoms.
- 1 in 5 people become mildly ill.
- Symptoms of the illness are fevers, headaches, muscle pain, rashes and red eyes.
- Deaths from Zika virus infections are not common.
How is it diagnosed?
- People who have symptoms can be asked to do a special blood test for the virus by their doctors.
- Test kits for Zika virus are not commercially available.
- Tests for Zika virus can be done at special laboratories.
How is it treated?
- There are no medications or vaccines specifically produced for Zika infections.
- Symptoms can however be alleviated by painkillers, rest and fluids.
How is it prevented?
- Avoid mosquito bites.
- Sleep under insecticide-treated nets if you live in affected areas.
- Wear long sleeved clothing and long pants.
- Use insect repellents.
- Keep a clean environment- to protect against mosquito breeding.
What are the complications?
- Researchers are trying to link babies born with abnormally small heads (micocephaly) and Zika virus infections.
- Although not often, Zika virus has been linked with Guillain-Barré syndrome (a condition that can cause partial or complete paralysis.
- Zika is mainly mosquito-borne.
- It is currently a global health emergency.
- It has no vaccine nor medication.
- It is being linked with microcephaly in new-borns.
- Prevention is by avoiding mosquito bites when in affected areas.
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By Charles-Davies OA, MBBS