Transmission, Symptoms and prevention of zika virus

The Zika virus, first identified in Uganda in 1947, is transmitted by the same type of mosquito that carries dengue fever, yellow fever, and chikungunya virus. A mosquito bites an infected person and then passes those viruses to other people it bites. Outbreaks did not occur outside of Africa until 2007, when it spread to the South Pacific.

The CDC has confirmed Zika can spread through sex, usually after a person traveled to an area where Zika has broken out, got the virus, and gave the virus to a sex partner who did not travel. Infected women and men can both pass the virus to sex partners — even if they haven’t shown symptoms of infection, the CDC says.

Transmission of Zika Virus

transmission of zika virus

1)    Mosquito bites

  • Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infectedAedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes spread dengue and chikungunya
  • These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases.  They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.
  • Mosquitoes that spread chikungunya, dengue, and Zika are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night.
  • Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

2)    From mother to child

  • A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy. Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. We are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.
  • A pregnant woman already infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to her fetus during the pregnancy or around the time of birth.
  • To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

3)    Through sex

  • Zika can be passedthrough sex from a person who has Zika to his or her partners. Zika can be passed through sex, even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time.
  • It can be passed from a person with Zika before their symptoms start, while they have symptoms, and after their symptoms end.
  • Though not well documented, the virus may also be passed by a person who carries the virus but never develops symptoms.
  • Studies are underway to find out how long Zika stays in the semen and vaginal fluids of people who have Zika, and how long it can be passed to sex partners. We know that Zika can remain in semen longer than in other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood.

4)    Through blood transfusion

  • To date, there have not been any confirmed blood transfusion transmission cases in the United States.
  • There have been multiple reports of blood transfusion transmission cases in Brazil. These reports are currently being investigated.
  • During the French Polynesian outbreak, 2.8% of blood donors tested positive for Zika and in previous outbreaks, the virus has been found in blood donors.
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5)    Through laboratory exposure

  • Prior to the current outbreak, there were four reports of laboratory acquired Zika virus infections, although the route of transmission was not clearly established in all cases.
  • As of June 15, 2016, there has been one reported case of laboratory-acquired Zika virus disease in the United States.

6)    Travelling to zika prone areas

You can check the list of zika affected areas here. All Countries & Territories with Active Zika Virus Transmission

Symptoms of Zika virus

symptoms of zika virus infection

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

How long symptoms last

Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Symptoms of Zika are similar to other viruses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.

Testing for Zika

Testing for zika virus: A blood and urine test can confirm a Zika infection

1) Diagnosis

  • Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results.
  • A blood or urine test can confirm a Zika infection.
  • Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.

2) Sexual Transmission and Testing

  • CDC recommends Zika virus testing for people who may have been exposed to Zika through sex and who have Zika symptoms.
  • A pregnant woman with possible exposure to Zika virus from sex should be tested. Possible exposure to Zika virus from sex includes sex without a barrier to protect against infection with a partner who traveled to or lives in an area with Zika.
  • Testing blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or urine is not recommended to determine how likely a person is to pass Zika virus through sex. This is because there is still a lot we don’t know about the virus and how to interpret test results. Available tests may not accurately identify the presence of Zika or a person’s risk of passing it on.
  • As we learn more and as tests improve, these tests may become more helpful for determining a person’s risk of passing Zika through sex.

Treatment for Zika virus

Treatment for zika infection

Doctors at a Philadelphia-based lab received the green light to start human trials for a Zika vaccine they have been testing.The vaccine will reportedly be tested on 40 people.

As of now, there is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus.

  • Treat the symptoms.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
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Prevention of Zika virus

How to prevent zika infection?

1)    Prevent mosquito bites

  • Zika virus is spread to people mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the day, but they can also bite at night.
  • The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Insect Repellent
  • Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • 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.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use air conditioning when available.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

2)    While travelling

  • If you are pregnant, do not travel to areas with Zika.The CDC has warned pregnant women in any trimester to “consider postponing travel” to more than 50 countries and territories where Zika transmission is ongoing:
  • American Samoa
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Bonaire
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cape Verde
  • Cayman Islands
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Fiji
  • French Guiana
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Kosrae
  • Marshall Islands
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • New Caledonia
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saba
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Martin/Sint Maarten
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Eustatius
  • Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos
  • S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela
  • Check for latest travel notices.
  • During the trip strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites to protect yourself and your family.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and with window/door screens.
  • Use a bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
  • Even if you do not feel sick, after returning from an area with Zika, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they do not spread Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.

3)    Protection during sex

  • Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex if used from start to finish, every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex or share sex toys.
  • Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex.
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Health Effects & Risks of Zika Virus

zika and microcephaly

  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and is associated with other pregnancy problems.
  • Several countries that have experienced Zika outbreaks recently have reported increases in people who have Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). More information related to Guillain-Barré syndrome is given below.
  • Current CDC research suggests that GBSis strongly associated with Zika; however, only a small proportion of people with recent Zika virus infection get

Zika and microcephaly

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause.

Other possible causes of microcephaly

Microcephaly can happen for many reasons. Some babies have microcephaly because of

  1. Changes in their genes
  2. Certain infections during pregnancy
  3. A woman being close to or touching toxins during pregnancy

Zika and Other Pregnancy Problems

In addition to microcephaly, other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. Although Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been linked with these other problems in infants, there is more to learn. Researchers are collecting data to better understand the extent Zika virus impact on mothers and their children.

Future Pregnancies

Based on the available evidence, we think that Zika virus infection in a woman who is not pregnant would not pose a risk for birth defects in future pregnancies after the virus has cleared from her blood. From what we know about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be protected from a future Zika infection.

Guillain-Barré syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis. GBS symptoms include weakness of the arms and legs and, in severe cases, can affect the muscles that control breathing.These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. Most people fully recover from GBS, though some people have permanent damage.  Very few people die from GBS.


Post reference:  CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




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