Health Science

Everything You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

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The Zika virus has spread fear around the world, causing riots and uproars about the current health care. However, the Zika virus wasn’t always the horror that it is today. With cases popping up in several countries and spreading like wildfire, here is everything you need to know about the Zika virus.

History of the Virus

The Zika virus isn’t a recent discovery having first been identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. The first human to be found with the virus was in Nigeria in 1954, and since the first case was discovered, there have been further outbreaks which have been located in Southeast Asia, Africa and Pacific Islands. Most of these cases were very small, and were not considered a threat, however in May 2015 the virus began to spread rapidly throughout Brazil. Since the reports from Brazil, the virus has spread to Colombia, Haití, México, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and several more.

How It’s Spread

The disease is spread by the Aedes mosquitoes, which are found throughout most parts of America. Other than countries which are too cold for them to survive, which is lucky for Canada and Chile. The mosquitoes bite an infected person and drink their blood, subsequently infecting the next person that they drink from. The disease can also spread through sexual transmission, with the disease being active to be transmitted for a week whilst in blood, and for two weeks whilst being in semen. This has been where a lot of the problems have developed.

Deaths and Disaster

Deaths from the virus are very rare, while only one-in-five people that are infected with Zika will develop symptoms. The symptoms include mild fevers, conjunctivitis, headaches, rashes and joint pains. Although these are mild symptoms, the virus has been linked to a nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome which can cause temporary paralysis. It is this symptom that has been a severe cause of concern for those not receiving proper treatment for the disease.

However, the biggest concern linked to this virus is the chance of microcephaly in newborns. This occurs when a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus, and it causes the baby to be born with an abnormally small head, as their brain will not develop properly due to the virus. Of course, some children survive this issue, however they are born with developmental and intellectual delays. On the other hand, some children suffer with such a severe case that they do not survive. This is due to the fact that the brain will not regulate the vital functions the body needs to survive. Pregnant women have been advised not to visit the affected countries due to the high risk, and those that are trying for a baby have been advised to wait. With such a high chance of microcephaly, it is no surprise that the countries have been avoided by women worldwide. Many people have cancelled holidays, trips and honeymoons to the impacted areas.

Of course, now you know the risks that Zika can bring, you need to know how to avoid catching the virus. As there is no treatment currently for the virus, the only way you can protect yourself is to reduce the risk of the mosquitoes biting you. To do this, health officials have advised the local inhabitants of infected countries and visitors to use insect repellants, keep windows and doors closed to prevent them from entering your home and to cover up with long sleeves. The mosquitoes are known to lay eggs in standing water such as ponds and lakes, so inhabitants are being advised to empty flower pots and buckets to prevent the eggs from hatching.

About the author

Rebecca Walton

Rebecca has always been fascinated with the business and tech world, having grown up with parents in the industry. She has a real passion for science - particularly space and the unknown realms that surround the planet! Rebecca has been writing for different publications for nearly 6 years and is now an editor at Pangaea Express.