Zika virus: What you should know
Virus quick facts
- Zika is a mosquito-borne viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes (primarily by the Aedes aegypti species.)
- These mosquitos are found throughout much of the Americas, Asia, and Africa, in both tropical and sub-tropical regions.
- The Aedes mosquito bite both indoors and outdoors and mostly during the daytime.
- Unlikely some infections which are primarily in rural areas. Zika infection is commonly acquired and transmitted in urban areas, from stagnant water, like pot plant dishes.
- The Zika virus is a flavivirus, very similar to the Dengue virus, and also similar to Chikungunya, West Nile Fever and Murray Valley Fever.
- Around 80% of persons infected with the Zika virus are asymptomatic. For the 20% who are symptomatic, the symptoms are generally mild.
- Symptoms (if any) will normally come on within 3-10 days (maximum 2 weeks) after being bitten.
- Common symptoms include: acute onset, low-grade fever, headaches, maculopapular rash, arthralgia (sore joints), Myalgia (aching muscles), and conjunctivitis.
- Symptoms usually last from several days to 1 week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and fatalities are rare.
Zika Recommendations for travel according to the CDC Guidelines
While travelling, it is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day – both day and night. Mosquito prevention strategies include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using DEET based insect repellents (Safe in all stages of pregnancy), using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
Because there is neither a vaccine (YET!) nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If a pregnant woman travels to an area with Zika virus transmission, she should be advised to strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites.
Zika in pregnancy
Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester, but no evidence exists to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible to Zika virus infection or experience more severe disease during pregnancy.
Although Zika virus RNA has been detected in the pathologic specimens of foetal losses, it is not known if Zika virus caused the foetal losses. Zika virus infections have been confirmed in infants with microcephaly, and in the current outbreak in Brazil, a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly has been reported. However, it is not known how many of the microcephaly cases are associated with Zika virus infection.
Evidence suggesting an association of Zika virus infection with an increased risk for congenital microcephaly and other abnormalities of the brain and eye prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the Zika virus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1, 2016.
To read more on Zika recommendations, click on the following links to the CDC website.
Zika Vaccine “100% effective” in animal trials
There was a new break-through in the fight against the Zika infection this week, with US researchers announcing that they have potentially developed a vaccine! When they trialled it on lab mice, they found that with just a single shot of the experimental vaccine, the mice were completely protected against the Zika virus.
An interesting read below: