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What About the Zika Virus?

Medic-ALL (01-30-2016) DISEASES
by Kayode Kuku

I am probably not the only one to have noticed that the "short-named" viruses seem to be making all the headlines over the cancers and "mouthful-named" diseases. From the Ebola virus to Lassa, the last couple of years have witnessed deadly outbreaks of these viral hemorrhagic fevers in different parts of the world...meaning we should be taking them seriously. 

Humans are infected through the bite of an infected Aedes Mosquito

What about the Zika virus?
Over the last couple of weeks, the Zika virus has been spreading aggressively throughout Latin America and with global infection rates rising, the world is very much at alert to learn more about the emerging disease.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne viral disease that was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda, East Africa in 1947 through a monitoring network set up for yellow fever at the time (Zika belongs to the same viral family-Flavivirus as the yellow fever and dengue virus). It was subsequently found in humans in Uganda and Tanzania 5 years later. Since then outbreaks have been recorded in the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

It is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito (which usually bites during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours.

Playing odds... you probably would not know if you were bitten and got infected, because only 1 out of 5 people develop symptoms...How Nice! The incubation period is thought to be about a few days and those who develop symptoms get fever, red eyes, rash, headache  joint pain,  and malaise which resolve within a week.Oh then, Whats all the noise about right??

Not as friendly in Pregnant women
Micocephaly is a  devastating condition
The Zika virus has been associated with miscarriages and birth defects, specifically microcephaly which is characterized by severe mental and physical disability in the newborn. That to me would mean, that ladies who are pregnant or intend to get pregnant should not be heading towards countries like  Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico at this time. 

Precautions however
First is to do all you can not to get bitten by a mosquito. Application of insect repellents as well as wearing of protective clothing, (since Aedes bites in daylight as well) will definitely be beneficial if travelling to the tropics or any of the affected nations. Your Doctor may also consider prophylactic medications. 

Those infected are advised to get plenty of rest , drink adequate amount of fluids and treat pain and fever with  common medications. No vaccines are available presently.

Even though Zika is not some new virus, there is still a lot to learn regarding our understanding of the virus, its association with other medical conditions and other dangers to pregnancy especially with its continuing spread to new areas and rising worldwide concerns.

Refs: KevinMD, WHO

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