Zica Virus is a member of the Flaviviridae family and is spread to humans by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. Those mosquitoes are also the primary cause of some other viral infections such as dengue, chikungunya, West-Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Zica virus has cause a few outbreaks in the Pacific since 2007, and it further spread in the Americas since 2015. It is consider an emerging infectious disease that is possible to spread to new regions where the Aedes mosquito vector exists. Up to now, no evidence of Zika virus transmission was found in Europe.
1. Zica virus: What about?
There is so far no indication that Zika virus can spread from person to person through casual contact. Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has claim the first case of Zika virus infection in a non-traveler after the person’s sexual partner came back from an infect area and develop symptoms. The disease has recently occur in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinents, and the Pacific Ocean islands. In May 2015, Zika virus was first found in the Western Hemisphere in northeastern Brazil. Since then, the virus has spread throughout much of the Caribbean, the Central and South America. The CDC publicizes an update list of affect countries as well as associate travel advisories.
2. Zica virus: How is Zika virus transmitted?
The primary mosquito carrying Zika virus is Aedes aegypti, a yellow fever mosquito often found in the tropics and subtropics of the world. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, may potentially spread Zika virus though it has not yet been associate with the transmission of human cases. After biting an infect person, those mosquitoes might become infect and then spread the virus to other people.
3. Zica virus: What are the symptoms and infections?
80 percent of people affected with Zika virus do not represent any symptoms. Symptoms, if available, are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms can involve muscle pain and headache. Acute disease demanding hospitalization is uncommon. Though these symptoms are relatively mild, health officials are investigating a potential connection between Zika virus infections in pregnant women and birth defects. As a result, CDC recommends pregnant women to consider canceling travel to any area where Zika virus is circulating.
4. Zica virus: What should travelers do to prevent?
The only way is to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. You should:
- Wear clothing that covers as much exposed skin as possible, such as shoes, hats, gloves, socks, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, etc.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or rooms with window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Treat clothing with permethrin and use permethrin-treat items. Treat clothing maintains protective after multiple washings.
- Clean or cover old tires, bottles, cans, flower pots or anything that can accumulate even a small amount of water.
- Wear EPA-register insect repellents since they have been guaranty for effectiveness.
- Apply sunscreen first then insect repellent.
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Never spray insect repellent underneath clothing.
- Never apply insect repellent to babies younger than two months of age.
5. Zica virus: What is WHO response?
- Promote and prioritize research into Zika virus disease by gathering experts and partners.
- Improve surveillance of Zika virus and its potential complications.
- Enhance capacity for risk communication to support governments in meeting their commitments under the International Health Regulations.
- Strengthen the ability of laboratories to detect the virus.
- Provide training in diagnosis, clinical management, and vector control through some WHO Collaborating Canters.
- Prepare recommendations for medical care and follow-up of patients with Zika virus, in collaboration with experts and health agencies.
- Assist health authorities to implement vector control strategies to reduce Aedes mosquito populations. Provide larvicides to tackle standing water sites that cannot be dealt with in other ways, such as cleaning, covering, and emptying them.
6. Zica virus: Are there any potential complications?
During large epidemics in French Polynesia and Brazil, national health authorities document potential neurological and auto-immune complications trigger by Zika virus disease. In Brazil, local health officials have recently observe a surge in Guillain-Barré syndrome coinciding with Zika virus outbreaks in the public, as well as an escalation in babies born with microcephaly. Agencies investigating the Zika endemics are finding a piece of evidence about the connection between Zika virus and microcephaly. Nonetheless, more investigation is necessary to better understand the association between Zika virus and microcephaly in newborns. Other potential reasons are also being sought.
Microcephaly is one of the special complication!
Microcephaly is rare and has many other causes, involving infection of the fetus with cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, or rubella (German measles); poisoning of the fetus by alcohol, drugs, mercury or radiation; or severe maternal diabetes and malnutrition. It is also trigger by several gene mutations such as Down syndrome. Health officials have started to pay little attention to Zika virus. Zika is usually mild though it circulated in the same regions as dengue and chikungunya, those two painful infections nicknamed “break-bone fever” and “bending-up fever”.
Some nutshell History!
The virus is believe to have spread from Africa to Asia at least 50 years ago. Though it may have cause microcephaly when it first spread, no testing could pin down which of many potential causes was to blame. In 2007, Zika virus began leap-frogging from Southeast Asian to the South Pacific, disseminating rapid plague on islands where no one had immunity to it. Since island populations are small, side effects did not appear often enough to be notice. During an outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013, however, doctors confirmed 42 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome among 270,000 residents. That was about eight times the usual number and the first hint that Zika virus can affect the nervous system, including the brain.
Since Zica virus was first confirmed in Brazil last May, it spread like wildfire. However, the first alarms about microcephaly were only raise in October, when doctors in Pernambuco report an increase in babies born with it. Pernambuco consists of nine million people and 129,000 annual births. Nine are microcephalic infants in a typical year. Pernambuco had had 646 such births by November 2015 when Brazil claim a health emergency.
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