Zika Virus Information

June 28, 2018

The Zika virus is a disease that appears to be relatively modern, in so that it is only within the last seven years or so that it has reached mainstream news. That said, it has existed for decades, with the first case of it identified in monkeys in 1947. By the 1950s, researchers discovered the Zika virus in humans dwelling in parts of Africa. However, it was not until 2007 that the first large-scale breakout of Zika occurred on the Island of Yap, part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The disease itself is mosquito-borne, with particular species of mosquitos transmitting it to humans and animals. In addition, the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually and possibly through blood transfusion (though this is currently being investigated).

With regards the incubation period of the virus (time from exposure to symptoms), this has not been fully determined as yet. It varies from person to person, with some people exhibiting symptoms four days after exposure and others displaying symptoms within two days. Once infected, typical symptoms include fever, conjunctivitis, muscle & joint pain, and headaches.

Treatments for the Zika virus are not unlike typical cold & flu medicines, with fluids, rest and painkillers generally being prescribed. That said, if symptoms do not improve, it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your local GP. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine available.

Considering the Zika virus’ cold-like symptoms, many people may believe that it is not a disease to be overly worried about. However, it is pregnant women for whom the effects of the Zika virus take a more sinister turn. When pregnant, the Zika virus can result in congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, with it also believed to trigger Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Again, there is unfortunately no cure for this.

As a result of no cure or vaccine available, the only option for people is prevention. If living in or visiting a country that contains the Zika virus, it is best you take the following precautions;

  • Apply insect repellent to entirety of body, whether clothed or exposed.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets.
  • Keep windows and doors closed, unless there is a protective screen.
  • Wear light-coloured clothing as it can deter mosquitos.
  • Abstain from intercourse or practice safe sex (particularly correct and consistent use of condoms) if you or your partner have recently visited/lived in a country with the Zika virus present.

For those who are pregnant, trying to conceive or have a partner trying to conceive, we recommend you view the following map before any travel, which lists countries where the Zika virus can be contracted; https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika.

Please note, patients attending ReproMed are asked to accurately complete a questionnaire regarding their travel to and from Zika zones in order for us to manage their treatment in such a way as to minimise the risks associated with exposure to Zika.

 

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