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All You Need to Know About Zika Virus

Zika virus is in the news recently. There are many reports of babies being born with microcephaly, that is, abnormally small head in Brazil.

We shall discuss a few important facts related to the Zika virus.

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What is Zika Virus?

The Zika virus infection is a mosquito-transmitted infection. The virus belongs to the Flaviviridae virus family and the genus Flavivitus. The Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 from the Zika forest of Uganda. The Aedes mosquitoes, like A. aegypti and A. albopictus, are known to transmit the virus.

The Zika virus is related to the dengue, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, chikungunya, and the West Nile virus. However, there is no vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat the Zika virus infection.

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Symptoms of Zika Virus Infection

Zika usually leads to a mild infection in most patients. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will develop symptoms. These symptoms include:

Mild fever

Skin rashes

Conjunctivitis

Muscle and joint pain

Malaise

Headache

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The illness usually lasts for several days to a week. As the infection is usually mild, people skip going to the doctor or hospital for treatment. It is very rare to see Zika infection turn fatal. The Zika virus remains viable in the blood of the infected person for about a week and in a few patients even longer.

Potential Complication of Zika Virus Infection

Zika virus can lead to potential health complications such as neurological and auto-immune complications. Brazil has reported an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome after cases of Zika infection in the general public was reported. It has also been found that pregnant women infected with Zika virus have babies born with microcephaly in the northeast Brazil.

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Diagnosis of zika virus infection

Zika virus is suspected only when the patient has traveled to an area known for Zika virus infection cases or is a resident of such an area. The presence of Zika virus is only confirmed after laboratory tests of blood or body fluids (urine or saliva) for the presence of Zika virus RNA.

Prevention of zika virus infection

Reducing the number of mosquitos by removal of breeding sites and contact between the mosquito and people is reduced. Stay indoors, wear light-colored clothes, cover yourself properly, and try and sleep under mosquito nets. One should apply window screens on doors and windows. Empty vessels containing stagnant water such as tubs, tanks, flower pots, tyres or vases.

Treatment of zika virus infection

Zika virus infection does not have any specific medication for treatment. An infected person requires plenty of rest. They should be given enough fluids to drinks. Fever and pain are usually treated with common medicines.

Zika virus has led to an emergency like situation. One needs to remain alert and take precautions to prevent a mosquito bite when travelling to Zika infested areas. Pregnant women should take extra care. Follow all the recommendations by WHO to prevent Zika virus infection.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 16, 2016