Zika Virus: What You Need To Know

Countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission. (Image by The NY Times)

What is the Zika virus disease?

Zika is a disease that is caused by a virus transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, Aedes mosquitoes to be exact. These mosquitoes can often be found around buildings in urban areas as well as old and contaminated buckets of water. One thing about these mosquitoes is that they bite during the daytime as well as the late afternoons and evening hours rather than the night where the wind speeds are generally calmer and easy to search for food. So far it has been reported that over 1 million people have been infected by this disease and more than 3,100 of those people are pregnant women from Columbia. It can be a huge problem for these women and because the infection can lead to unusual small heads as well as brain damages in newborns. As for those who have been infected but currently not going through pregnancy, they will expect symptoms of muscle pain, fevers, conjunctivitis, skin rash, pain in the joints, etc.

Can the Zika infection be prevented?

Sadly, there are no cures to the Zika disease as of now, however there are ways to preventing yourself from being infected. Here are some ways:

  1. Start building the habit of wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  2. Use insect repellents (only use on ages +2 months)
  3. Stay away from areas with current outbreaks of Zika
  4. Use bed nets and screens
  5. Empty, and clean/cover containers that hold water such as buckets, etc.

But what should I do if I have already been infected? Well, it can be treated slowly by getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, taking medication, and preventing further mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. If the symptoms start to worsen, be sure to seek medical care and advice from a healthcare provider.

What are some of your thoughts on this outbreak?

Sources:

McNeil, Donald G., Jr., Catherine Saint Louis, and Nicholas St. Fleur. “Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Feb. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/health/what-is-zika-virus.html>.

“Zika Factsheet — the Basics.” Department of Health. Commonwealth of Australia, 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 6 Feb. 2016. <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-zika-factsheet-basics.htm>.