Zika virus (ZIKV) – is a virus of the Flavivirus genus (Flaviviridae family), carried by Aedes mosquitoes such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus.
The virus was first discovered in rhesus monkeys in Uganda during the monitoring work for yellow fever in forests. Then, in 1952, the virus was detected in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks caused by virus Zika were registered in Africa, North and South America, Asia and the Pacific region.
Zika virus infection usually causes mild fever, rash, fatigue, conjunctivitis, headache, and muscle pain. Currently, vaccine and specific treatment do not exist. The most effective way of prevention – protection against mosquito bites.
Signs and symptoms of Zika virus
The incubation period of the disease caused by Zika virus probably amounts to several days. Symptoms of the disease are similar to symptoms of other arbovirus infections, such as dengue fever. Symptoms of Zika virus include:· fever · skin rash · conjunctivitis · pain in muscles and joints · malaise · headache
These symptoms are usually mild and stored for 2-7 days. Neurological and autoimmune complications are infrequent, but have been described in the outbreaks in Polynesia and, more recently, in Brazil.
Zika virus is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, mainly species Aedes aegypti, found in tropical regions. These mosquitoes are also carriers of dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever.
Two cases were reported that suggest sexual transmission of Zika virus. One of the cases was about a biologist who studied mosquitoes in Senegal and was bitten numerous times. But after he came back to the USA and had unprotected intercourse with his wife, he fell ill.
Zika can be transmitted through blood, but is not an easy and frequent transmission. Also, there is a possibility to transmit the virus from mother to child. In 2015, Zika virus RNA was detected in the amniotic fluid of two fetuses, indicating that it had crossed the placenta and could cause a mother-to-child infection.
For the diagnosis of disease caused by Zika virus, doctors use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and virus isolation from blood samples. Serological diagnosis can be difficult since the virus is able to cross-react with other flaviviruses such as dengue virus, West Nile virus, and yellow fever virus. There are also developed tests to determine the virus in serum isolated during the acute phase of the disease. ELISA tests are based on the definition of specific immunoglobulin M.
Microcephaly and Zika virus
Microcephaly – is a birth defect characterized by incomplete development of the brain and abnormally small head. Currently, there is no treatment for its symptoms: convulsions, delayed development and thinking problems. Microcephaly is usually a rare disease. In the United States, it usually occurs from 2 to 12 cases per 10 thousand of newborns. It is very common in Brazil. The researchers suggest that there is a connection between the place and the time of Zika virus outbreak and an increase in cases of microcephaly.
Traces of Zika virus were detected in the brain of the fetus or newborn baby, as well as in the placenta and amniotic fluid. However, there is still not enough of evidence that the virus causes birth defects.
Prevention and treatment
The presence of mosquito vectors and their breeding grounds indicate a significant risk of infection Zika virus. Prevention and control of disease are based on reducing the number of mosquitoes by eliminating their source (the destruction and transformation of breeding grounds), and excluding the possibilities of human contact with mosquitoes.
You can use insect repellents, wear clothing (preferably light colored), covering as much of the body as you can, use physical barriers, such as mesh, closed doors and windows as well as mosquito curtains for sleeping. In addition, it is important to get rid of potential mosquito breeding places, that’s why you need to empty, clean, or cover containers in which water can be collected: buckets, flower pots, tires. It is necessary to help in protection for those who are unable to provide adequate protection, in particular, children, sick people and the elderly.
There is no vaccine or special medicine to prevent or treat Zika virus. Usually, the disease caused by Zika virus goes easily and does not require specific therapy. People infected with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, take regular medication for pain and fever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), and should not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. With worsening symptoms, you should seek for a professional medical help and recommendations.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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