Zika virus! Zika virus! All this fuss about the Zika virus. You hear it on the news shows, hospitals are screening incoming patients about their recent travel destinations and on and on. So, this blog is an attempt to inform you of what you need to know about this virus. Zika virus is a member of the Flaviviridae and is transmitted by a daytime- active mosquitos. It originated from the Zika Forest of Uganda were the virus was first isolated in 1947. Since the 1950’s, there had been evidence of its presence along a narrow equatorial belt stretching from Africa to Asia. Sometime between 2013 and 2014, the virus spread across the Pacific Ocean. In 2015, Zika outbreaks had reached pandemic proportions in South America, Central America and Mexico.
Zika fever, which is the disease caused by this virus, is primarily contracted through the bite of a mosquito. The mosquito that spread this virus will bite either daytime or night. They will typically bite someone who is infected with the virus and then bite someone who has not been infected. The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy.
Fever, rash, conjunctivitis (redness to the eyes) and joint pain are the common symptoms. These symptoms can last up to a week in duration and are mild in severity. Statistically, 1 in 5 persons infected with this virus will become sick. And because the symptoms are so mild, many that are infected will not realize they have been infected. Most recently, however (February 2016), there appears to be evidence that this virus in pregnant mothers can cause abnormal brain development in their fetuses which can result in miscarriages and microcephaly (small, underdeveloped brain).
As of 2016, there are no drugs or vaccine to treat this disease. Treating the symptoms and rest is the course of action you should take if you find yourself infected by this virus. Since there are no drugs or vaccines to treat this disease, prevention is the best defense and there are several steps that can be implemented.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. This spray can be applied on the clothing, as well as, the skin. However, do not place the repellent on the skin and cover it with clothing. Always follow the product’s label instructions.
Wear long sleeve shirts and pants.
If you are wearing a sunscreen, apply it first, and then the repellent.
- Stay in areas that have air conditioning, windows and door screens.
- If you have a baby or child, do not use insect repellent on babies less than 2 months of age.
- Cover cribs, baby carriers and strollers with mosquito netting.
- Repellent should not be applied onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- The repellent can be sprayed into an adult’s hands and then applied to the child’s face.
- Wear permethrin treated clothing, which offers protection even after several washings.
- Avoid traveling to areas that has a Zika virus outbreak.
In January 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance and enhanced precautions for those considering a trip to affected countries. Your healthcare professionals at yourkidhealth.net are recommending that you visit their website if you are considering a trip to one of these countries in the near future.