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Mosquito Files: What You Need to Know About Zika

by Karen Rollins Apr 8, 2019

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Zika is a viral disease spread by infected mosquitoes.

The most recent large outbreak of the disease was recorded in Brazil in 2015. It has since been identified in over 86 countries and territories across the world particularly Africa, Asia and the Americas.

What is Zika?

The World Health Organization says: “The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.”

Zika is passed onto humans through bites by the Aedes mosquitoes, which are usually more active during the day, especially early morning and late afternoon/evening.

Unlike dengue fever and chikungunya, Zika can be passed from human to human during sexual intercourse, blood transfusions and organ donation. It can also be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of the Zika virus?

The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are:

*Fever

*Muscle and joint pain

*Rash

*Conjunctivitis

*Headache

Symptoms are usually mild and can be treated with rest, fluids, and common painkilling medicines. However, if symptoms worsen the infected person should seek professional medical care.

Zika has also been linked to a range of neurological illnesses including Guillain-Barré syndrome – a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.

If a woman is infected with Zika while she is pregnant, her baby has a high risk of being born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome. Microcephaly is a birth defect which causes babies to be born with a small head and an under-developed brain.

Can the Zika virus be treated?

The World Health Organization states that there is no treatment available for Zika virus infection or its associated diseases.

How can I avoid getting Zika?

The best way to avoid the Zika virus is to stay away from areas where there are known outbreaks and to prevent mosquito bites.

Control the mosquito population around your home by removing stagnant water from containers, cutting down bushes and other vegetation. Wear long sleeve tops and trousers especially when outdoors and apply mosquito repellent to any exposed skin.

Sources: World Health Organization / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention