Flaviviridae family member, Zika virus belongs to Flavivirus genus. Though the virus is causing worries to the health experts in the recent days, it is actually an old virus first identified in the year 1947 for affecting monkeys living in the Zika forest, Uganda. Mostly spread by A. aegypti mosquitoes during the daytime, the virus generally causes fever, rashes, conjunctivitis and joint pain in affected patients. Yet, a significant number of people remain unaffected even after getting infected with this virus. However, they carry the germ and can transmit it to others.
Like the other vector-borne diseases, Zika virus is also spread through mosquito bites during the daytime, at anytime after sunrise to late afternoons. Yet, the mosquitoes may even bite at night in some cases. Presently, the mosquitoes spreading this virus are found in the urban areas with plenty of buildings.
Apart from mosquito bites, this virus can even spread from perinatal transmission and blood transfusion. Sexual contact with contaminated people can also transmit the virus.
Zika virus generally have an incubation period of 10 days and in many cases patients could not trace the symptoms. Low grade fever, which mostly remains confined below 38.5 degree Celsius is the most prominent symptom of this virus. Fever is often accompanied with rashes, pain and swelling of joints as well as muscle pain. Reddening of eye or conjunctivitis is also reported in many cases.
Symptoms like pain in eyes and headache are also misdiagnosed as dengue at times. Fatalities are rarely reported from people affected by Zika virus.
The symptoms of Zika apparently appears similar to that of chikungunya and dengue. Therefore, proper diagnosis is required at the very onset. As of now, there is no treatment or vaccine available for treating this condition and doctors mostly suggest rest for faster cure. Drinking plenty of fluids is recommended for preventing dehydration. Doctors may also recommend, acetaminophen for treating pain and fever. However, patients should not take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or aspirin unless symptoms of dengue are completely ruled out. Patients contaminated by this virus are generally recommended to avoid mosquito bites during the first week as it can spread the virus to more people.
Vaccines for preventing Zika is yet to be developed. Therefore, some basic safety measures can only be followed for preventing its spread. People are mostly recommended to avoid mosquito bites during the daytime.
If anyone is traveling to places with Zika outbreak, it is suggested to wear full-pants and shirts with long-sleeves. Using mosquito repellents, window screens, mosquito nets are also advised to prevent mosquito bites.