Zika virus: Here’s what you need to know to prevent infection
The Aedes mosquito can become the bearer of yet another dangerous virus
The Zika virus appeared to be a distant threat, with the initial outbreak happening in Brazil - but this distance should not make us complacent.
The Singapore government has taken steps to address this problem.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on 24 January, Sunday, that there have been no cases of the Zika virus found in Singapore and they are monitoring the situation closely.
A ministry spokesman stated in a statement to The Straits Times that, "MOH is actively considering precautionary measures against the virus".
In a Facebook post by the Ministry of Health , they advise proper clothing when travelling. Clothing that covers the body, arms and legs especially. MOH especially warns that pregnant travellers should take strict precautions and extra care.
#1 What is the Zika Virus?
The name "zika" originated from the Zika forest near Entebbe in Central Uganda, where the virus was first isolated by scientists back in 1947.
#2 What are the symptoms to look out for?
Only 20% of people infected actually fall ill, with the symptoms associated with the virus being quite mild.
Common signs include:
- Slight fever
- Joint and muscle pain
Currently, the incubation period is not known, but is predicted to range between a few days to a week.
From the first week of infection, the virus is present in the blood and infection via mosquito bites is possible.
Fatalities from the virus itself is rare.
#3 Can it be treated?
There is no vaccine available for the virus. Only the symptoms can be treated.
The best solution is to avoid getting infected in the first place. When travelling, apply insect repellent, wear clothing that covers the body, arms and legs and if possible, sleep under cover - mosquito nets or wire mesh.
At home, do ensure that there is no stagnant water at home, as that creates a breeding ground for the Aedes mosquito.
#4 Is the virus really linked to a birth defect?
The Zika virus is claimed to cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads — a condition known as microcephaly.
Investigations in Brazil are trying to confirm a causal link between Zika virus and microcephaly, with additional studies reportedly to have been planned on the risks of a Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
#5 Should Singapore be worried?
Before 2015, the Zika virus had been found around areas in Africa, South-east Asia and the Pacific Islands.
While Singapore remains Zika-free now, it can easily spread here.
News Source: The Straits Times
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