Five key facts of the Zika virus according to the Worldwide Health Organization (WHO) as of January 2016
Zika Virus Five Key Facts
· A virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes causes the Zika virus.
· People with Zika virus usually have a mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis normally lasting for 2-7 days.
· There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
· The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
· The Zika virus is known to circulate presently in North and South America, Asia, and the Pacific. The only country in Africa known to have a Zika transmission is Capo Verde.
Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever.
Signs and Symptoms
|Zika transmission areas|
The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.
Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito in tropical regions. More than 13 countries in the Americas have reported sporadic Zika virus infections indicating rapid geographic expansion of Zika virus.
Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples.
Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. Prime time for mosquitoes bites is at dawn and at dusk. Travelers should take the basic precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. It takes two days for the Aedes mosquito to transition from egg to biting female adult.
|The Aedes mosquito|
Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
Zika and Pregnancy
Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Zika virus infections in the public as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil. Microcephaly is the abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.
According to WHO, agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. However, more investigation is needed before we understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus. Other potential causes are also being investigated however, as of February 5, 2016, the Zika virus is strongly suspected in certain microcephaly cases in the Americas.