What You Should Know About the Zika Virus

Understanding The Zika Virus

 

Many people are unaware of the Zika virus. That is because it is extremely rare and was once exclusive to the specific regions of Asia and Africa closest to the equator. However, in recent years, the virus has made its way to Central America and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean islands. Zika is transmitted to humans by a type of mosquito that is only active in the daytime. This mosquito is known as Aedes, and can be identified by its unusual white markings.

 

Zika Virus Prevention Tips

 

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
    • Always follow the product label instructions
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • If you have a baby or child:
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

Zika Symptoms

 

zika virus prevention symptoms

This virus, which causes Zika fever in humans, is closely related to West Nile and yellow fever. An infected human may experience conjunctivitis, which causes red eyes and irritation. Some will also experience a mild fever and joint pain, as well as occasional rashes. However, many people who contract Zika will suffer no symptoms at all. Serious illness is uncommon and death by Zika is nearly unheard of.

Symptoms may resemble those of the dengue condition. Dengue is transmitted by the same mosquito genus, which is why a blood test is a good idea. It is important to know which virus you have to fully understand the seriousness of your condition. Be sure to inform your doctor of any trips you have recently taken, as Zika may be transmitted from one location to another. If an infected human is bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may transfer the virus to another human, creating a greater health risk for those in your community.

If allowed to spread, the Zika virus could potentially thrive in the southern United States, as well as northern Australia and most of the South American continent. Despite being a mild virus, it is crucial that all sufferers do their part in containing the virus and preventing it from spreading to new regions. If you live in or have visited some of these regions and believe that you are infected, talk with your doctor immediately.

Zika Virus Treatment

Unfortunately, there are no medical treatments for Zika. In fact, rest is one of the few ways to deal with the illness. It is also recommended that the sufferer remain as hydrated as possible and use common over the counter pain and headache medicine to reduce the severity of their symptoms. The virus typically lasts for a week or less, after which it leaves the blood stream permanently. Just one week of precaution could help prevent the spread of Zika.

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