In 2016, the WHO declared the Zika virus to be a global medical emergency.1 Although there have not been too many new cases of the Zika virus infection, it nonetheless poses a serious threat to pregnant women and others. The Zika virus has been found to cause various birth defects in babies born to pregnant women who are infected.
What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is mosquito-borne and spread by the Aedes mosquito; the same species that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever.
How is the Zika virus transmitted?
The virus is transmitted when an infected person is bitten by a mosquito, which then bites other people. It can also spread from a pregnant woman to her baby. In addition, the virus has also been found to spread through sexual intercourse and some studies observed the presence of the virus in the saliva, blood, urine, and eye fluid of an infected person.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Though most infected people won’t show any symptoms, a few (about 1 in 5) may display the following symptoms, which could range from mild to severe:
Symptoms may show up any time from 3-14 days after a mosquito bite and can remain for several days to a week.
Zika and pregnancy
During a pregnancy, the virus can cause serious birth defects of the brain, such as microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads), brain damage, and Guillain-Barré syndrome (where healthy nerve cells are attacked by one’s own immune system). In addition, it could also cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Hence, pregnant women are advised to steer clear of areas prone to Zika virus risks.
There is no vaccine or medicine/treatment for Zika.
Zika Virus Prevention
The only sure-fire preventive method is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, period. Since we can’t tell which mosquitoes are vectors and which are not, the only option is to block them all. This can be achieved by taking the following steps:
To conclude, the Zika virus can only be prevented by preventing mosquito bites. So, take appropriate steps now to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.