What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus was first discovered in the 1950’s and is also known as Zika fever or Zika disease. It is a virus that is carried by infected mosquitos and is transferred to humans through mosquito bites. Throughout recent years, this virus has been spreading quite rapidly throughout Africa and southern and central American and scientists are warning that it could soon grow to pandemic proportions.
What are the Symptoms of the Zika Virus?
A person who has been infected with the Zika virus could exhibit the following symptoms:
- Mild Headache
- Joint Pain
- Conjunctivitis (inflammation and redness of the eyes)
These symptoms will usually appear 2-7 days after first being bitten and are usually fairly mild. Most symptoms will start to subside after a few days and should be completely clear within a week’s time.
So far there have not been any deaths or long-term complications reported in adults that have contracted this virus.
The Zika Virus and Pregnancy
Although the Zika virus does not seem to pose a large threat to the majority of the population, there does appear to be an increased risk to pregnant women who contract this virus. Scientists are finding a connection between a birth defect called microcephaly and mothers who became infected while pregnant. Studies are showing a higher incidence of babies being born with this disorder when their mothers were bitten with a Zika infected mosquito while pregnant.
It is recommended that pregnant women or those who are thinking of becoming pregnant, avoid high risk areas and take all necessary precautions to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitos.
Is there a Cure for the Zika Virus?
Currently there is no cure for this virus. Scientist are working diligently to find a vaccine but until then the best method of protection is prevention. Wear clothing that covers your skin when outside and always use a mosquito repellent. Use mosquito nets when sleeping and try to avoid infected areas if at all possible.
Some studies have also shown that this virus may be able to be spread through sexual contact as well. Make sure that you alway use a condom and abstain from engaging in sexual activities with a person who suspects they have been infected.
If you do contract the Zika virus the best treatment is lots of rest and fluids. An over-the-counter pain medication like paracetamol, acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help with any discomfort that you may experience.
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