Mosquito Maladies – 4. Zika Virus
This Mosquito Maladies Post Series breaks down some of the most common dangerous diseases that can be transmitted by mosquitos. In this blog, we breakdown: Zika Virus. **PLEASE NOTE: This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always seek the advice of a doctor and/or medical treatment if necessary**
Zika was first discovered in primates in Uganda back in 1947 and wasn’t recognized in humans until 1952. It is transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito and most common in tropical and subtropical regions. Due to blood carrying the disease, in rare cases, Zika can also be transferred through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and other encounters with blood from an infected individual. In order to determine if an individual is indeed infected with the virus, laboratory tests must be conducted on a sample of bodily fluids such as blood or urine.
Luckily, most people who contract the Zika virus will either have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms, the most common of which are:
- Headache and/or Body Aches
- Joint Pains
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Along with being more rare, these symptoms do not last long and are often fully healed within a week.
Pregnant woman can transfer the virus to their fetus if they become infected. In these cases, there is a risk of the child being afflicted with a birth defect known as microcephaly. This is a brain defect in which the brain develops abnormally, resulting in a far smaller head than is average and healthy for an infant. Microcephaly can also cause the brain to continue to have stunted or abnormal growth following birth. In other cases, Zika can actually cause miscarriage or stillbirth. As such, it is important to consult your doctor if you are concerned about the possibility of having Zika virus while pregnant in order to seek the best advice and medical assistance.
Unfortunately, there is neither a vaccine nor any cure for Zika virus at this time. The best way to combat the virus is to treat the symptoms by drinking fluids, getting plenty of rest and consulting your physician as to what kinds of over the counter medicines may be most helpful to relieve any further discomforts.
Microcephaly (2020) Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/microcephaly/symptoms-causes/syc-20375051 (Accessed: August 2020).
Zika Virus (2019) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/ (Accessed: July 2020).
Zika Virus (2018) World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/zika-virus (Accessed: July 2020).