Be in the Know: The Zika Virus

Zika Virus symptomsThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a travel alert, cautioning pregnant mothers against travelling to Latin America countries or territories such as Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Haiti, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, among others. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also warned women who are considering pregnancy to go to their physicians first before travelling. This is after news that the Zika Virus symptoms have been spotted in these countries were repoted.

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika Virus (ZIKV) was first observed in a research monkey in the Zika forest in Uruguay on April 1947. It was first observed in humans in 1968 in Nigeria. From there, it started its slow and steady march throughout Africa and Asia. In 2007, an outbreak in the Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia is the first recorded sighting of the virus outside Asia and Africa.

The Zika Virus is somewhat like the dengue fever or chikungunya. It is also spread by the same kind of mosquitoes. Specifically, it is carried by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes. Under this belongs the Aedes aegypti, the bringer of diseases such as dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

ZIKV has generally flown under the radar for so long due, in part, to it being self-limiting and asymptomatic (meaning it has, in most cases, no symptoms at all). According to the CDC, the disease itself lasts typically only a few days to several weeks, with severe cases that require hospitalization being rare and fatality even rarer. the Zika Virus symptoms are as follows:

  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Conjunctivitis (Red Eye)
  • Muscle and/or Joint Pain
  • Fever

However, a study of the Brazilian Health Ministry has yielded reports about the links of zika virus with microcephaly in newborns. According to CNN, the Brazilian Health Ministry has advised women to put off their plans on getting pregnant because of the sudden rise of microcephaly. Thus the travel alert put in place by the CDC as well.

According to the CDC, there is, as of writing, still no known treatment or vaccine to stop the spread of the Zika Virus. Some point to the fact that it generally has mild symptoms and goes away on its own for the reason why no treatment has yet been put in place. However, experts agree that a cure should be easy to develop, if the need arises.