Here’s all you need to know about deadly Zika virus

Here’s all you need to know about deadly Zika virus

NATIONAL | September 24, 2018:

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, according to the World Health Organisation.

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Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. From the 1960s to 1980s, rare sporadic cases of human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness.

The first recorded outbreak of Zika virus disease was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007. This was followed by a large outbreak of Zika virus infection in French Polynesia in 2013 and other countries and territories in the Pacific. In March 2015, Brazil reported a large outbreak of rash illness, soon identified as Zika virus infection, and in July 2015, found to be associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

In October 2015, Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly. Outbreaks and evidence of transmission soon appeared throughout the Americas, Africa, and other regions of the world. To date, a total of 86 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-transmitted Zika infection.

Here is all you need to know about Zika Virus

What is Zika virus disease?

Zika virus disease is a viral infection that is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which is found throughout the world. In most cases, people infected with Zika virus have no signs and symptoms, while others develop mild symptoms, including fever, rash and muscle pain. Other symptoms may include red eyes (conjunctivitis), headache – usually last for 2-7 days.

Zika virus infections during pregnancy have been linked to birth defects, such as microcephaly – where babies are born with underdeveloped heads and brain damage. The mosquito-borne disease has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves.

How to prevent Zika virus infection

Currently, there's no vaccine for protection against Zika. Hence, protection against mosquito bites is a key measure to prevent the deadly infection. Following these tips will help protect you, your family and friends from contracting Zika.

  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes, especially if you're going to mosquito-infested areas.
  • Use mosquito repellents, including the ones that can be applied to your clothing. For your skin, opt for a repellent containing at least a 10 per cent concentration of DEET. According to the Mayo Clinic, insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proven safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women, when used as instructed.
  • Keep your surrounding areas clean to help reduce mosquito habitat. Usually, the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are aggressive daytime biters often found indoors. Get rid of standing water – such as animal dishes, flower pots, planters – as mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
  • Practice safe sex – studies have shown that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted and can persist in the semen for as long as six months. Studies are also underway to find out how long Zika can stay in the semen and other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood.
  • Plan for travel – if you're travelling to an area with active Zika virus transmission, you should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and prevent sexual transmission during and after the trip. Since Zika infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, pregnant women should avoid travelling to the areas with risks of Zika. Furthermore, partners of pregnant women and couples considering pregnancy should take prevention steps to reduce the risks.

Last but not least, watch out for symptoms of Zika. Seek immediate medical help if you think you or a family member may have symptoms related to Zika virus.

Source: TimesNow

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