It almost seemed like an epidemic, a flurry of confusion, adding to a global stress. The Zika virus is not a recent mosquito-borne virus. With the danger associated with this epidemic, World Health Organization has announced this issue to be a public emergency. In light of this, there are 5 key points to be understood relating to this virus, namely:
1. With its first appearance in 1947 in Uganda, this virus is spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which have created a stir in 30 countries worldwide, with the numbers steadily growing throughout Asia, America, Africa and the Pacific region. The mosquito transmitting this virus is also the carrier of infections like dengue and chikungunya, hence, will bear similar symptoms too for the patient suffering from this virus. A patient infected with this virus will display symptoms like low-grade fever, rashes, joints ache, nausea, diarrhea, conjunctivitis or unexplained headaches. Several times, the symptoms are so mild and unnoticeable that seeking medical attention will be avoided and will be passed off as a regular downtime.
2. Deeper issues like birth malformations for pregnant women like babies born with small heads or abnormal brain development is what makes this virus deadlier. Some cases have been noted to lead to more complex neurological issues in adults, leading to paralysis. With the ease of its spread globally through mosquito bites, it has resulted in alarming numbers of infection. The diagnosis of this virus is confirmed on the basis of a lab test on body fluids like blood, urine, and saliva.
3. Lasting from 2 to 7 days, there is no preventive vaccine currently discovered. Hence, only prevention from mosquito bites is the alternative. Use of repellent creams, patches amongst others, ensure that mosquito breeding areas are avoided with the removal of stale water collection points like flower pots, buckets to name a few, maintaining gardens to avoid new breeding sites in wild patches, cooling offices and homes with air conditioners, window screens, can prevent these mosquitoes to breed since they multiply in warm areas. In addition, necessary sprays are to be used to ensure the area is fumigated and controlled. This virus spreads if the mosquito bites an infected person. Other forms of potential threats like sexual transmission are still being researched to confirm the level of threat.
4. Once detected, patients are advised to take complete rest, consume plenty of fluids and treat the pain and fever with mild medication like acetaminophen. Aspirin and nonsteroid related anti-inflammatory drugs are to be avoided. There is no specific treatment that has been outlined to deal with this virus. The fatality of this virus is still not determined; hence, it is treated as mild and containable.
The virus is still under research for further explanation and as more answers come out, the public can be better warned of precautions and potential treatments. Until then, it's better to be safe than sorry!