What Is Zika?
The Zika virus is mostly spread by the bite of the Aedes species of mosquito, which bites during the day and night. It can also be spread through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Zika is rarely deadly in adults, but can have severe effects on fetuses who contract it through their mother in the womb.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Zika can be mild, or even nonexistent. The most common symptoms of Zika include:
- Muscle pain
- Red eyes
- Joint pain
The symptoms of Zika only last for a few days to a week, and are not often severe enough to be hospitalized. It is rare that anyone dies from Zika. Like many viruses, once someone has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from any further Zika infections in the future.
Who is at risk?
Although Zika is not severe in adults, it can cause serious harm to fetuses. If a fetus contracts Zika through their mother, it can cause a serious brain defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe brain defects. Zika can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths. In some cases, Zika has been noted to cause Guillain-Barré syndrome in fetuses, which is a rare sickness of the nervous system.
How to prevent Zika infection:
As there is no vaccine available for Zika, the best line of defense is to protect you and your family from mosquito bites. More precautions can include:
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Treating yourself and your clothing with permethrin, or buying pre-treated clothing
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:
- Picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undicanone. Always follow the usage instructions.
- When used correctly, insect repellent provides a safeguard strong enough even for pregnant and breast-feeding women
- Stay somewhere where mosquitos cannot get in, using window and door screens
- Use mosquito netting over beds, especially children’s beds
- Standing water produces points of breeding for the zika virus carrier. Empty all places with standing water.
- Use precautionary measures, always use a condom, or practice abstinence
How is Zika diagnosed?
There are many things at play when diagnosing Zika. These include the patients recent travel history, symptoms, and any test results. Zika can be diagnosed by a simple urine or blood test.
What to do if you have Zika:
There are no vaccines or medicine to treat Zika. In order to treat Zika, you must:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Take acetaminophen or any other fever-reducing medicine
- Always contact your doctor if you are on any medications before treating Zika