The Zika Virus is a disease that is spread by a certain mosquito species known as Aedes (Ae. Albopictus and Ae. Aegypti). Unlike other mosquito species which are usually active at night, the Aedes species are more aggressive during the day.
According to the CDC, there is no medicine or vaccine for the disease. If infection occurs during pregnancy, it can be transmitted from an expectant mother to her unborn fetus. It has the potential of causing certain birth defects.
What are the symptoms of the Zika Virus?
Most people who get infected with the virus don’t experience any symptoms, whereas others only experience mild symptoms. The most common are: fever, conjuctivitis/ red eyes, rashes, pain in the joints, headache and muscle pain. They are quite similar to the symptoms exhibited by other viral diseases that are usually transmitted through mosquito bites, such as chikungunya and dengue.
Symptoms may last for several days. Many people who get infected do not seek medical attention because they don’t get seriously sick. Since the symptoms are only mild, most of them don’t even realize that they’ve contracted the virus.
Diagnosis of Zika virus is primarily based on a patient’s test results, recent travel history as well as symptoms.
Infection can be confirmed through a urine or blood test. Your healthcare provider or doctor may order tests to determine the presence of Zika, chikungunya or dengue.
Sexual transmission & testing
The CDC recommends testing for patients who may have unfortunately been exposed to the virus via sex, and also exhibit symptoms.
An expectant woman with likely exposure to Zika from sex should also be tested, especially if she had unprotected sex with a partner who had travelled to or lives in an area that the virus exists.
According to the CDC, there’s no specific vaccine or medicine for the virus. If you’ve been diagnosed with Zika, you should take the following measures:
1. Treat the symptoms.
2. Avoid taking NSAIDS until and unless dengue has been ruled out.
3. Get sufficient rest.
4. Reduce pain and fever by taking drugs such as paracetamol or acetaminophen.
5. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of fluids.
How to protect yourself as well as others from Zika Virus
Prevent mosquito bites
The virus is transmitted from one person to another through infected Aedes mosquitoes. They are very active during the day, but they can also bite you at night. Therefore, you should take adequate measures to prevent bites from these mosquitoes. You should also take measures to control them outside and inside your house.
Plan for travel
Outbreaks are happening in many territories and countries. According to the CDC, the virus will continue spreading, hence making it difficult to establish where and how it will spread/ get transmitted over time.
In order to protect yourself from Zika, you should check travel notices and adequately plan for travel (before and after trips).
Protection during sex
It has been established that the virus can be spread from an infected person to another during unprotected sexual intercourse. Upon infection, it can remain in semen, blood, vaginal fluid and urine for quite some time.
To avoid infection, consider complete abstinence from sex. Alternatively, you can use male or female condoms. Dental dams provide sufficient protection for partners who wish to engage in oral sex.