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What We Should Know About the Zika Virus

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

In response, CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

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Symptoms

  • About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
  • The illness 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.
  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.
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Diagnosis

  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.
  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.
  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
  • Your healthcare provider may order specialized blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.

Treatment

  • There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.
  • Treat the symptoms:
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
  • If you have Zika,prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.
  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites.
  • An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

 

Yesterday the BBC reported that Spain has confirmed that a pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the Zika virus – the first such case in Europe.

The health ministry said the woman had recently returned from Colombia, where it is believed she was infected.

Zika, which is spreading through the Americas, has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the microcephaly condition, linked to the mosquito-borne virus, a global public health emergency.

In other Zika news:

  • Brazil says a national mobilisation day will be held on Saturday, during which thousands of soldiers and state employees will work work to eradicate mosquitoes in homes and offices.
  • The outbreak is discussed by health ministers from 14 South American countries who vow to take action to eliminate it
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tells the BBC he expects a rise in Zika cases
  • The WHO expresses fears over the reported sexual transmission of the Zika virus in Texas
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott declares a public health emergency in four counties with travel-related cases of the virus, while ordering state officials to increase mosquito control efforts in heavily populated locales including Miami and Tampa.
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