Recognizing Symptoms of Zika virus
Zika fever is caused by the Zika virus, which mostly spread by mosquitoes. It is a viral illness transmitted to humans through infected mosquito bites. In most cases, it is mild and resolves on its own, but it can be dangerous during pregnancy. The symptoms of the Zika virus are usually mild, and people may not even know they have been infected. However, it can cause severe complications in pregnant women, leading to birth defects in the baby. Here are some of the symptoms of the Zika virus:
1. Mild Symptoms
Many people who contract the Zika virus don’t even develop any symptoms or only experience mild ones, including:
- Mild fever
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Red eyes
These symptoms usually last for about a week and can be treated with acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers.
2. Other Symptoms
In some cases, the Zika virus can cause more severe symptoms, such as:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Lack of appetite
- Unusual tiredness
These symptoms are usually not severe and go away on their own within a week. However, in rare cases, the Zika virus can cause severe complications, including neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Testing for the Zika Virus
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is advisable to get tested for the Zika virus. Testing for the Zika virus is done in the lab through blood and urine tests. Here is more information on how to test for the Zika virus:
1. Blood Tests
Blood tests are used to confirm a diagnosis of Zika virus. The tests look for antibodies in the blood that the immune system produces in response to the virus. Blood tests are effective in diagnosing the Zika virus if performed within the first seven days of the onset of the symptoms.
2. Urine Tests
Urine tests for Zika virus are also available, and the accuracy of these tests can improve when used together with blood tests. Urine tests can detect the virus for a more extended period than blood tests, which typically only detect the virus during the initial stage of the infection.
Preventing the Zika Virus
Preventing Zika virus infection is essential, especially during pregnancy. Below are some preventive measures that can reduce the chances of contracting the Zika virus:
1. Mosquito Bite Prevention
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Use insect repellent containing DEET
- Eliminate standing water from around homes where mosquitoes breed
- Use mosquito screens on windows and doors
2. Sexual Transmission Prevention
- Use condoms during sexual activity
- Refrain from having sex with a partner who is at risk for Zika virus infection
- Avoid having unprotected sex with anyone who has traveled to an area with a risk of Zika virus infection
3. Travel Recommendations
It is advisable to seek medical advice before traveling to areas where there is a risk of Zika virus infection. Pregnant women should avoid traveling to high-risk areas or take extra precautions.
Final Thoughts on Zika Virus
Knowing the signs and symptoms of Zika virus infection can help reduce the risk of developing complications or transmitting the virus to others. Prevention is critical, so take necessary steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly if you plan on traveling to high-risk areas. If you experience any symptoms, seek medical help so that you can get tested and receive appropriate treatment.
Most Frequently Asked Questions About Zika Virus
- What is the Zika virus? The Zika virus is a virus that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes or sexual contact.
- What are the symptoms of Zika virus? The symptoms of Zika virus are usually mild, including mild fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, and red eyes.
- How is Zika virus diagnosed? Zika virus is diagnosed in the laboratory through blood and urine tests.
- How is Zika virus treated? Usually, the symptoms of the Zika virus resolve on their own, and no specific treatment is required besides acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain relievers, but severe symptoms require medical attention.
- Is Zika virus dangerous during pregnancy? The Zika virus can cause severe complications during pregnancy, leading to birth defects in the baby.
- Are there prevention methods for the Zika virus? Preventive measures include avoiding mosquito bites, wearing protective clothing, using repellants, and seeking medical advice before traveling to high-risk areas.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). How Zika Spreads. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/index.html
2. NHS (2020). Zika virus. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/zika/
3. World Health Organization. (2020). Zika Virus. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/zika-virus [Accessed 10 Nov. 2020].