Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947 (hence the name) in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes (the same that causes Dengue and Chikungunya).
1. What are the symptoms of Zika?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
2. How is Zika transmitted?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
3. Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.
4. What countries have Zika?
This is currently changing as we speak. So far, we don’t have it in India. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time.
5. What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, but the Hyderabad company has claimed Zika vaccine – but yet to undergo trials, which means it is atleast 1 to 2 years away before it is commercially available. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
6. What is the treatment for Zika?
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.
Treat the symptoms:
7. Are you immune for life once infected?
Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, special precautions are recommended for the following groups:
8. Is this a new virus?
No. Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.
For more information, please click here: WHO, cdc.gov
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