Zika (ZIKV) is a virus that comes from the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes and originates from the Zika Forest of Uganda. It was first discovered in 1947. It’s a virus that is on everyone’s vocabulary nowadays because of the suddenness of its spread across South America and has now reached the United States. According to the CDC, as of February of this year, there have been 35 cases of Zika in the country from people who have travelled to places where the virus is spreading rampantly. In the US Territories, there are 9 reported cases.
The fear among many medical experts is that the US government is downplaying the seriousness of the Zika virus threat. Florida (specifically Broward county)has 21 cases of confirmed Zika virus. The latest news is that the virus can be spread through body fluids like urine and saliva and sexual contact. It has already infected up to 4 million people and in Brazil alone, up to 4,000 babies have been born with defects possibly from the virus. Some experts believe that there will be a million confirmed Zika virus cases by the end of 2016.
What’s the Worst That Can Happen to a Person Infected with Zika Virus?
For most people, the question is how can the Zika virus harm them or their loved ones. The symptoms of the virus include:
- Fever, headaches
- Joint and muscle pains
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
Hospitalization is not necessary as these are not life threatening. In fact, a person can be bitten by an infected mosquito and have the virus but be unaware because the symptoms are similar to the flu. In fact, only 1 in 5 persons with the Zika virus will experience sickness. The virus is known to have an incubation period of about seven days although this can extend to longer periods for some people. Unfortunately, the Zika virus is more dangerous to pregnant women. It causes birth defects, most often, smaller head size and smaller brains known as microcephaly, which is a lifelong condition. Babies with microcephaly suffer from a range of medical problems including seizures, developmental delays, intellectual disability, poor motor and balance functions, hearing and vision problems, and problems with swallowing and feeding.
There is no vaccine against the Zika virus or medicine to treat a person with the Zika virus other than OTC drugs for treating the symptoms like acetaminophen.
Quick Tips on Protection Against the Zika Virus
- Avoid travel to countries and areas where there are cases of Zika virus.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and apply insect repellent except on children under two months of age.
- Treat clothes with permethrin but do not allow permethrin on the skin
- Use mosquito fogging treatments or mosquito misting systems for a more permanent solution.
- There are also environment-friendly products that you can use to deter mosquitoes like citronella candles (up to 2 meters radius only), oil of lemon eucalyptus repellent (but not on children under three years old), and catnip oil.
Finally, go around your home and remove any standing water since these are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes and avoid going out to parks and gardens after the sunsets and before sunrise.