Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection carried by Aedes species mosquitoes. It was first found in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. Since then, it has largely been found in African countries, but sporadic outbreaks have occurred in Asian countries. 

The current large outbreak with the new symptoms was first detected in Brazil in 2015 and it has since spread quickly to 22 Central and South American countries, including Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Venezuela and Haiti. So far, Brazil has recorded the largest outbreak – more than 1 million people have been infected with the virus.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection?
Symptoms from the virus are usually mild and include fever, red itchy rash, conjunctivitis, headache, and aches and pains in joints. Symptoms usually occur between 3 to 7 days after a bite, but only 20 percent of those infected ever feel sick and many people may not even know they have been infected.

How is it spread?
The virus is believed to be almost exclusively passed to humans by mosquito bites, but there is one case that may have been sexually transmitted and another that may have been transmitted by blood transfusion. There is also some evidence that pregnant women can pass the virus to their fetuses. Public health officials believe it may be associated in some way with severe birth defects in some babies whose mothers had the virus when pregnant. Since the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and other areas in the western hemisphere, officials say there has been an increase in microcephaly in newborns in these areas, which include severe manifestations such as small heads and incomplete brain development.

How do I Protect Myself?
Avoid frequent travel to parts of the world with the zika virus outbreak. If you must travel, avoid being bitten by the Aedes Mosquito by doing the following;
  • Use insect repellants that contain N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide on exposed skin. The repellant is safe for use in pregnancy and should be applied directly to skin.
  • Wear loose clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net.
Pregnant women need to be especially well protected from being exposed to the Zika virus outbreak as there is documented evidence that pregnant women who contract the Zika virus may run an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly (this means a baby with an abnormally small head which can affect brain development).

If your partner has traveled to an area with the Zika virus outbreak there is also the low risk of sexual transmission of the virus. To prevent this condom use is advised:
  • for 28 days after his/her return home if no Zika virus symptom is shown.
  • for 6 months after recovering if he/she experienced Zika virus symptoms or a zika virus infection has been confirmed by a doctor.


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