What is Zika virus? Symptoms, prevention and treatment

Amid coronavirus scare, the presence of Zika virus has been confirmed in Kerala. A 24-year-old pregnant woman from Parassala, is reportedly, the first case of the the mosquito transmitted disease. There are 13 other suspected cases of the virus from Thiruvananthapuram and neighbouring area.

The woman was admitted to the hospital on June 28 with fever, headache and red marks on her body. The tests conducted at the hospital confirmed that she was positive following which her samples were sent to NIV, Pune. The condition of the woman was satisfactory.

What is Zika virus?

According to World Health Organissation, Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti, during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon/evening. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Symptoms of Zika virus

Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Muscle pain

The incubation period of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3-14 days and the symptoms typically last for 2-7 days. Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Zika virus and Pregnancy

According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms.

How to protect yourself?

Use Insect Repellent: Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal icon with one of the active ingredients below. It should include DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD) and 2-undecanone.

Tips for babies and children: Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.

Tips for Everyone

  • Always follow the product label instructions
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
  • Prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas

No vaccine is available

No vaccine is yet available for the prevention or treatment of Zika virus infection. Development of a Zika vaccine is still a area of concern.

Zika virus Treatment

There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus. If you develop, any symptoms please contact doctors.

The UN health agency advises people with symptoms to get plenty of rest, drink fluids. Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.

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