Throughout Asia, the Zika virus is slowly spreading. It is especially harmful to pregnant women as it can cause microcephaly in their unborn babies. It has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults.
You’ve probably heard or read something about the Zika virus a few times in the past few weeks. With the latest news and information, there is no doubt you want to know more about it.
This article explains the Zika virus, its symptoms, and its spread. This provides helpful information on preventing the spread of this mosquito-borne disease and gives full instructions on how to be tested for the Zika virus.
What Is Zika Virus
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first isolated from the blood of a rhesus monkey in Uganda, Africa. The virus was first detected in humans in 1952 when it caused an outbreak on the island of Yap in Micronesia.
In 2015, this virus spread rapidly across South America and the Caribbean, and a report on local transmission in Central America and Mexico. In 2016, it reached the United States for the first time, with local transmission reported in Florida.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to humans through bites from infected Aedes mosquitoes. However, there are also some reports of human-to-human transmission without a bite. It can also be transmitted from other to child during pregnancy or birth.
Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika virus during pregnancy, it can cause microcephaly and other congenital defects in her baby. This virus can also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
It’s an uncommon neurological condition that causes muscle weakness or paralysis, usually lasting one or two weeks but sometimes longer.
Aedes mosquitoes can pass the Zika virus from an infected person to another
Zika Virus Situation in Singapore
Singapore has been facing a Zika virus situation since 2016. The country is one of the most affected by the virus and its symptoms, which include fever, rashes and joint pain. It is also one of the most proactive in its response.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been working closely with other countries to control and prevent the spread of the disease. They have also implemented several measures to safeguard public health, including screening for pregnant women returning from affected areas.
They also provided free testing for residents who are not pregnant but have travelled overseas during an outbreak period within two weeks before the onset of symptoms.
What Is Zika Virus Symptoms
The symptoms of Zika virus infection are similar to those of other arboviruses (viruses transmitted by arthropods), such as dengue fever or chikungunya. These include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
In addition to these symptoms, some people infected with this virus have reported muscle aches, headaches, tiredness, and eye pain.
No vaccine or specific treatment is recommended for the Zika virus now. Most people recover completely within a week, but some develop complications from the infection.
For example, infected pregnant women may give birth prematurely or have babies with birth defects such as microcephaly (an abnormally small head).
How Does Zika Virus Spread
To understand how this virus spreads, it helps to know a little bit about the life cycle of the mosquito.
First, female mosquitoes bite humans and feed on their blood. Then they lay their eggs in water, where the larva develop before hatching into pupae that emerge as adults. At this point, the female mosquitoes mate and then blood feed again to get nutrients for egg development.
The male mosquitoes do not bite people but feed on nectar from flowers until they mate with a female mosquito (which may be several days after emerging from their pupae).
The most common way to get the virus is through bites from infected Aedes species mosquitoes found in tropical regions worldwide. These mosquitoes bite during daylight and nighttime, depending on their habitat’s location.
As they feed on human blood, they also transmit viruses like Zika virus through saliva into their victims’ skin. The incubation period for this virus ranges from three to 12 days after infection; however, symptoms usually appear within two weeks after exposure.
How Is Zika Virus Transmitted
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the Zika virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
There are reports of sexual transmission of the Zika virus from a man to his sex partners. But it’s unclear how often this happens or how important it is to spread the virus. It can be challenging for people infected with Zika to know if they have passed the virus along to their sex partners because many symptoms are similar to those experienced with other viral infections, including dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Zika does not seem to spread very well among people in close contact, such as family members, caregivers or healthcare workers who work directly with patients who have Zika. This could be because the mosquitoes that carry Zika usually don’t live in well-sealed and air-conditioned buildings, which is where most people spend most of their time indoors.
How Long Does the Zika Virus Last
How long does the Zika virus last? The answer depends on the person, but generally not very long. Most people infected with this virus will experience symptoms for 2 to 7 days. However, some people may have symptoms for longer than this, depending on their age or health status.
Zika Virus During Pregnancy
Image Source: iStock
The Zika virus affects everyone, and pregnant women must be aware of it. Here are some things you should know about Zika and pregnancy:
1) This also spreads through sex with an infected person. So, if you’re pregnant with possible exposure to the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex (and never share sex toys) until you’re no longer at risk of contracting the virus.
2) In addition to preventing mosquito bites (thereby preventing exposure to Zika), you should also avoid travelling to areas where there is ongoing virus transmission. If you must travel, talk with your doctor about how much risk there is in your specific location and decide whether or not it’s worth it.
3) If exposed to the virus and you’re pregnant, talk with your doctor immediately about what steps they recommend taking during your pregnancy. They may recommend testing for the virus or starting antiviral medications early on to reduce risk factors as much as possible.
What Is the Treatment for Zika Virus
The treatment for Zika virus is mainly supportive care, which means that doctors will treat your symptoms and help you to feel better. They may also give you medications to help you get through the illness.
How to Avoid Zika Virus
Here are some tips for avoiding the Zika virus:
- Use insect repellents containing DEET regularly outdoors during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outside during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
- If possible, stay indoors during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
- Use air conditioning when available to keep windows closed while sleeping at night.
If you plan to travel to an area where there’s a report on Zika virus outbreak, it’s crucial to find out if your destination is at risk of mosquito-borne transmission. If it is, you should take extra precautions while travelling. It’s also important to be aware of any symptoms of a Zika infection so you can seek treatment immediately if necessary.
To stay safe during your trip:
- Stay in places with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors
- Use insect repellent when outdoors and wear long sleeves and pants while outdoors
- Stay in a hotel with clean sheets, towels, bedding and toilets
How to Get Tested for Zika Virus
This mosquito-borne illness can cause various symptoms, from fever and rash to birth defects in infants. To protect yourself and your family, take the test for the Zika virus. It is essential.
- Do the test within two weeks of your symptoms appearing.
- See your health care provider or the local health department if you live in an area where Zika is present or if you’ve recently travelled to an area where Zika is present.
- Tell the person who performs your test about where you’ve been travelling and what activities you’ve done—such as outdoor work or playing sports—to help them understand if they need to take extra precautions with their testing process (for example, wearing gloves).
Here is an infographic with information on Zika and what you can do to prevent infection.
Updated by Pheona Ilagan
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