Mosquitoes trouble us in multiple ways-biting, sucking blood and causing diseases. The recent double trouble of these mosquitoes is the spread of the Zika virus. In the year 1947, scientists identified a new virus in the rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda and hence, named it as Zika virus. While the first case in humans was recorded in the year 1952, the first large epidemic outbreak happened in humans in the year 2007 and yet again in 2014. In July 2015, Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Yet again in October 2015, Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.
Signs & Symptoms
Incubation period of Zika virus is not precisely known, but is said to be for a few days. Symptoms are usually mild and occur for a period of 2-7 days. Common symptoms include rashes, itching all over the body, fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and lower back pain.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to individuals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Unlike mosquitoes that spread malaria, affected mosquitoes (Aedes mosquito) bite during the early morning hours and late afternoon/evening and are the same ones that spread dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Read more on diseases spread through mosquitoes at www.firsteatright.com.
Although a small number of cases of sexual transmission have been reported, the risk is said to be pretty low.
The virus is diagnosed through a series of blood tests on blood and other body fluids such as urine, semen and saliva. Treatment is not mandatory when infection is mild. Individuals affected with this virus should take plenty of rest, drink ample fluids and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, it is better to seek help of a physician.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause congenital brain abnormalities in which microcephaly is also included. Microcephaly is a condition wherein the baby has an abnormally small head and can have abnormal brain development and is also known as congenital Zika syndrome.
It is recommended that pregnant women avoid travelling to places that are at an increased risk of Zika virus transmission and also postpone travel plan to places at a moderate risk of Zika virus transmission until after pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to follow safer sex or better abstain from sexual activity throughout their pregnancy period.
Women Trying to Get Pregnant
If you are trying to conceive, it is better to safeguard yourself from mosquito bites. Also try to avoid becoming pregnant in areas that have a high prevalence of Zika virus. If in case you ought to travel to areas where the prevalence of Zika virus is high, avoid getting pregnant for at least up to 8 weeks after coming back.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.