Zika Virus Disease
Facts about the Zika Virus
Here are some important factoids about this disease:
- The family of the mosquito that transmit this disease is called Aedes
- People infected by this disease may have not so high fever, exanthema and conjunctivitis, symptoms can last from two days to seven days
- There are no vaccines or treatments geared to treat the disease
- The virus is circulating in South America, Africa and Asia and the Pacific
The Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, was first discovered in Uganda around 1947 by a team dedicated to eradicate Yellow Fever.
Symptoms and Signs
Incubation period is not clear, but probably is around a few days. Symptoms are similar as other diseases propagated by infections of the arbovirus, among them dengue. Common symptoms are fever, joint pains, muscle pain, fatigue, fever, chills, loss of appetite, maculopapular eruptions, conjunctivitis, myalgia, arthralgia, maybe encephalitis.
Health authorities have linked the virus to neurological complications and autoimmune disorders. They are also investigating if this virus is causing a higher number of children born with microcephaly.
The Zika virus is transmitted to people when a mosquito bites them, the mosquito belongs to the family of the Aedes. This same mosquito transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Zika virus is diagnosed by PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in real time and isolation in blood samples . Serological diagnosis can be difficult, and the virus may have crossed with other flavivirus, such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.
The mosquitoes and where they proliferate are an important factor. The prevention consists on reducing the places where the mosquito can breed and fumigating the locations to control the mosquito population. The health departments are trying to reduce the contact between mosquitoes and people.
It is also important to empty water reservoirs where the mosquitoes can breed.
During outbreaks, health officials may recommend insecticide spraying. Recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Plan insecticides they can also be used as larvicides for treating relatively large water containers.
In May 2015 the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert because the first person got infected with Zika virus in Brazil, leading reports followed about the link between the Zika virus and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an Alert Level 2: Practice Enhanced Precautions for country specific locations. For country specific information about Safety and Security visit the US Department of State Travel Alerts and Warnings page.
For people who are planning to travel to Mexico click Zika virus in Mexico link.
Click on areas with Zika link to find out where the virus has been found and you can take precautions.
How is Zika Diagnosed?
If you have been to the areas with Zika and you are experiencing the symptoms described in this document. DO not hesitate in search for your Health Care Provider, here at the Travel Medicine for Woodlands we can test you whether you have been infected with the Zika virus and offer you treatment. Contact us at your earliest convinience.
Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):
- Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
- If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- Women who are trying to become pregnant:
- Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
- Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
For more questions and answers on Zika and pregnancy, see Questions and Answers: Zika and Pregnancy.