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Zika Virus: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

  • timeline Anoush Gomes
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

As India continues to battle with the surge of COVID-19 virus cases, it seems that another virus has crept up in one of the states. As per reports, this week, the state of Kerala has reported over a dozen cases of the Zika virus. This mosquito-borne virus has affected the state’s citizens for the first time. The previous time Zika cases were reported in the county was back in 2016-2017 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. As per research there have been outbreaks in South East Asia and a rapid spread in Brazil back in 2015. It was deemed a virus in 1952 and was first isolated back in 1947 from monkeys in Uganda’s Zika jungle. Read on to understand what we know of the Zika virus, the symptoms it causes, and how to treat and prevent it.

Zika virus transmission

The Zika virus spreads mostly through mosquito bites primarily by the Aedes species which bites during the day. This same species is also responsible for the transmission of other mosquito borne illnesses such as Chikungunya, Yellow Fever and Dengue fever. The CDC has also revealed that the virus has the ability to be transmitted through intercourse and blood transfusion, even if symptoms are not exhibited.

Zika virus symptoms

Zika Virus Symptoms

As per experts, many individuals that were infected with the virus didn’t show symptoms or have shown mild symptoms. The following are the symptoms to look out for.

(1) Fever and headache
(2) Joint and muscle pain
(3) Unexplained rashes
(4) Red eyes (conjunctivitis)

These symptoms can last 2- 7 days. There have been rare cases of Zika fatalities and most infected patients don’t need to be hospitalized. Due to this and the similarity of symptoms to other viruses, a Zika virus infection can be misdiagnosed and overlooked. The virus also affects pregnant women and can cause birth defects and congenital conditions such as microcephaly  in the fetus and can further cause premature birth, and miscarriages. It can also be a trigger for Guillain-Barre syndrome, neuropathy and inflammation of spinal cord in older children and adults.

Zika Microcephaly

If you develop the above symptoms unexpectedly or after having visited an area where there are Zika virus cases, consult with a general physician as soon as possible. They will confirm the diagnosis through blood and urine tests. 

Zika virus treatments

There is currently no treatment or vaccine for the Zika virus – it’s treated symptomatically.  Should you be diagnosed with the virus, make sure to follow all the precautionary measures recommended to you by your doctor. Besides this, the following can help reduce your discomfort as you heal from the virus.

  • Get rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Symptomatically medicate under the supervision of a doctor such as taking acetaminophen/Paracetamol for fever and pain.
  • Avoid taking any other pain medication unless your doctor advises you to avoid risk of bleeding.

Zika virus prevention

Since the virus is transmitted through mosquitoes, it’s important to protect yourself from them. Follow these tips to help prevent a Zika virus infection, especially if you live in an area where cases are present. 

  • Cover your arms and legs ( wear light colored clothes preferably)
  • Protect yourself in your home by closing your windows or using mosquito screens
  • Avoid areas with standing water
  • Cover water storage containers, clean up trash and used tires
  • Special attention should be given to prevent mosquito bites among pregnant women and young children. Community initiatives are essential to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

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    Anoush Gomes

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