Top 10 Facts About The Zika Virus

Zika virus
A Macro photo of a MosquitoA Macro photo of a Mosquito

You may have heard recently in the news about the mosquito-borne virus that is rapidly spreading around the world. At this time, the Center For Disease Control is working on tests in the laboratory to collect more research on transmission, prevention, and recognizing the link between Zika and other associated disabilities. Keep reading below to find out how to prevent infection, what areas to avoid while traveling this summer, and what the symptoms are if you are already infected!

  • Which Areas Are Being Affected? Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Colombia have many confirmed cases of this vector-borne virus and it is continuing to spread rapidly in similar climates. The most recent exposed areas in the United States that have been affected are California, Florida, New York, and Texas. The two species of mosquitos that carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are both known to breed within tropical, subtropical, temperate climates, and some can even survive in cooler temperaturesBut most of these cases are from those who have recently traveled to areas that are affected with this mosquito-born virus.
  • How To Prevent Bites: We recommend wearing long sleeves and pants as much as you can when you are spending time outside. Another great tip to stay far away from these noxious mosquitos is to remain in air-conditioned buildings with screened doors and windows to keep them out! Also, be sure to reapply your insect repellent throughout the day as per the instructions (preferably one containing DEET), empty containers that hold water to kill mosquito larvae, use condoms when having sex, and also make sure to sleep under a mosquito net.
  • Advisory For Pregnant Women: If women contract the virus while pregnant they may also pass the virus along to their unborn baby. This vector-born virus was initially discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. However, the first human to be infected by this virus was not until 1952. Since this time there was been a widespread infection of this virus all over the world. Notably within tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Brazil.
  • How Is It Transmitted? The Zika virus can be contracted by being bitten by the mosquito species names Aedes, blood transfusions, laboratory exposures, as well as having sexual intercourse with someone who is infected. It is a flavivirus very similar in onset to West Nile, yellow fever, the dengue virus, and other viruses of this genus (Zika Virus).
  • What Are The Symptoms? Once infected by this virus, it may take several days to a week to notice changes in your health. You may experience symptoms such as rash, painful joints, fever, red eyes, and some may even suffer headaches and muscle aches. Symptoms differ from patient to patient, and some people may not even show symptoms at all. The virus can remain in your blood for a week and in some cases; symptoms have lasted longer, but with such mild indications it may be difficult to tell if you have even been infected.Though there have been very few cases resulting in death after contracting this virus, you should still err on the side of caution when exploring the beautiful outdoors this summer.
  • Can You Be Infected More Than Once? There is some good news for those who are already infected: if you have already contracted the virus and have been treated properly you will be shielded from any potential Zika virus infections thereafter.
  • So How Else Can You Get It? If an infected male has had sexual intercourse with a woman, it is possible for him to not only transmit this virus to the woman, but also to her unborn baby. The result of an infant being born with this virus is threatening, since along with the virus, the newborn baby is also at risk for being born with an extremely debilitating brain deficiency called microcephaly. According to the CDC, “Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly”.
  • What Happens If You Are Pregnant And Infected? The CDC is not sure quite of the exact likelihood that pregnant women will birth a child with microcephaly at this point in time. However, the link between infected pregnant women and their babies that are born with the Zika virus present within brain tissue and microcephaly is definitive. There is now much more research solidifying this connection, as well as other birth defects that are associated with this microcephaly such as eye impairments, loss of hearing, and issues with growth and development.
  • What About If You’re Infected & Want To Have A Baby? If you are not already pregnant, being infected with this virus will not affect future pregnancies as long as the infection is treated and removed from the blood properly. And if you are wondering if there has been a vaccination developed yet, it is still in the works, but the hopes of a vaccine shouldn’t stop you from protecting yourself in the meantime!
  • What To Do If You Think You May Be Infected: The protocol if you are infected with this virus is to visit to a general practitioner as soon as possible to rule out any other vector-born viruses such as dengue, make sure you get ample amount of rest, take a fever-reducer such as acetaminophen, stay hydrated, and practice safe sex to prevent further spreading. It is probably best not to take any anti-inflammatories, as you could react negatively and induce internal bleeding if you have contracted a virus other than Zika. The physician will do a series of blood and urine tests to determine whether or not you have the virus, and check to make sure you do not have any others. Safe travels, and take care of yourself out there!

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