Zika virus, first reported in Africa Uganda in the year 1947, is a mosquito-borne flavivirus. At this time it was reported in monkeys, and the first human case was reported in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania (WHO, n.d.). The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes in the Aedes genus. In the tropical regions, Aedes aegypti are responsible for transmitting the virus. Zika can also be sexually transmitted. The mosquitos causing the virus bite during the day and bite activity is concentrated during sunset and sunrise.
The symptoms of Zika begin to manifest between three to twelve days of infection. The symptoms include muscle pain, conjunctivitis, joint pains, fever, headaches, skin rash, and malaise. The symptoms are mild lasting less than a week and may not require treatment. Infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause severe complications for the unborn child. It causes congenital defects such as microcephaly. It also causes Guillain-Barre Syndrome (CDC, n.d.).
The diagnosis of the virus is confirmed through laboratory tests. The tests can be done on blood, semen, urine, and saliva. Since the manifesting symptoms are similar to those of flu, chikungunya, and dengue fever, healthcare providers must conduct comprehensive testing to make a differential diagnosis for accurate treatment. Once the infection has been confirmed treatment is necessary. Rest, taking fluids, and medication is necessary (Australian Government Department of Health, n.d.).
Zika virus infection can be prevented by ensuring that people are protected against mosquito bites. Being the primary cause of infection, preventing bites is imperative. Preventing bites can be done by using insect repellant to kill mosquitoes, sleeping under mosquito nets, wearing clothes that cover much of the body, and closing doors and windows to keep mosquitos at bay. Travellers to affected regions and people living in these areas should take precaution to avoid infection. Persons with Zika virus and their intimate partners must receive counseling and contraceptive advice to prevent Zika that is sexually transmitted (WHO, n.d.). Safe sex and abstaining are also emphasized for pregnant women.
- Australian Government Department of Health. (n.d.). Zika virus factsheet-the basics. Australian Government Department of Health. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. (n.d.). Zika virus. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/
- World Health Organization, WHO. (n.d.). Zika virus. WHO. Retrieved from http://www.who.int