Zika virus infection is usually caused by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito and occurs in tropical areas with large mosquito population. Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), since October 2015, some countries and territories of America have reported the presence of the virus. As per WHO, Zika virus is known to circulate in Africa, America, Asia and the pacific. WHO has declared Zika virus infection as public health emergency.
What are the symptoms of Zika Virus?
The incubation period (the time from exposure to development of symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The most common symptoms of zika virus are fever and skin rashes, usually accompanied by muscle/ joint pain and conjunctivitis. These symptoms are mild and can usually last up to 2-7 days.
How is this virus transmitted?
Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, that is Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.
How is this virus diagnosed?
Zika virus disease is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction). The diagnosis is generally clinical and is based upon presenting symptoms and recent history of exposure (e.g. mosquito bites, or travel to an area where Zika virus is known to be present). Further, a laboratory can confirm the diagnosis by blood tests.
Is there a treatment available for Zika virus?
The symptoms of the disease are relatively mild and require no specific treatment. People who are suffering from this virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and if required, take treatment under medical supervision.
Is there a vaccine available for zika virus?
Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment available for Zika virus but you can protect yourself by taking few precautions.
How can I protect myself from Zika Virus?
The best protection is preventing mosquito bites. This can be done by using insect repellent; wear full sleeves clothing (preferably light-coloured) and by using mosquito nets while sleeping. Remove water from coolers, buckets and other containers where mosquitoes can breed. Pesticide spraying or "fogging" can also be effective.
Can this virus be transmitted through blood or sexual contact?
In general, the Zika virus needs a vector (a means of transportation) to infect people which in this case is Aedes aegypti. There is no confirmation of transmission through blood or sexual contact. However, a CDC report suggested that there is potential sexual transmission of Zika Virus.
How does Zika virus affect pregnant women? Can mothers transmit Zika virus to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth?
Pregnant women have the same risk as the rest of the population, for being infected with Zika virus. According to a WHO report, a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly (condition where head circumference of baby is smaller than normal) is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. As per CDC report, it is advisable for pregnant women those who are planning to conceive to avoid travelling to countries affected by the Zika virus.
Zika Outbreak: WHO's Global Emergency Response Plan