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Zika Facts You Need to Know Now
The spread of the virus became widely discussed the topic over the past months not only in the US but around the world.
How the Zika virus is transmitted, what are the symptoms, what is the threat for the pregnant women and how we are threatened by the disease?
What is the Zika virus?
World Health Organization circulated in January newsletter with a detailed description of the Zika virus. For the first time, it was discovered in Uganda in 1947 during monitoring of yellow fever. Then, in 1952, the virus has been detected in people in Uganda and Tanzania. By 2015, the virus is unknown in the American region. Last year the Zika virus occurred in northeastern Brazil and quickly spread to many Latin American countries and Caribbean islands.
How is it spread?
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of the same type of mosquitoes that carry the agents of the other tropical diseases such as Dengue fever, Chikungunya virus, and yellow fever. There is not known to be transmitted from person to person. However, health experts are exploring the possibility that the virus is transmitted sexually.
The problem is that there is no cure for the disease nor vaccine for prevention. According to experts, the development of a vaccine will take at least 10 years.
Symptoms of infection
Typical symptoms include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, sore muscles and joints, fatigue. The symptoms can last between 2 and 7 days. Most people (about 80%) never develop these symptoms. The disease passes pretty easily. Severe cases of infection with Zika virus, which require hospitalization are rare.
The Zika virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to the baby in her womb and can cause birth defects. It is not yet known exactly how the virus is transmitted from mother to the fetus. It is assumed that a newborn can become infected with the virus through breast milk.
The virus is associated with severe defects in infants who are born with small heads (microcephaly) and underdeveloped brains. It can also lead to delays in mental development, speech and motor skills and growth.
Where is the Zika virus?
South American tourists have brought the virus in Europe. In Germany are registered ten cases of the virus from 2013 onward. In Italy, there are four, three UK and Spain – seven cases of infection by the Zika virus. It is possible that the number of infected with the virus is much larger because many of the infected people don’t know that are infected.
According to the US Centers for control and disease prevention, only one in five infected with the virus develops the disease. This, of course, does not mean that the virus is completely harmless.
Currently affected by the virus are Asia, Africa, North and South America, the Pacific and Europe. On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization announced that cases of microcephaly after infection with Zika are getting more and the virus is a global threat to human health.
People who travel to countries with widespread infection of the Zika virus must have in mind the following:
- To use individual protection against mosquitoes:
- repellent / mosquito repellent substances /;
- clothing with long sleeves and pants, hats, which protect exposed areas of the body;
- individual protective equipment to be used throughout the day from morning until evening, when is the highest activity of mosquitoes.
- It is advisable to spend the night in rooms in which windows are with a mosquito net;
- Pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy, to be sure to consult a doctor before traveling to the affected countries. It is recommended that the trip is postponed. Especially, if the final destination is a country, where the Zika virus is widespread.
- Travelers returning from affected areas and have symptoms typical of the disease and were bitten by mosquitoes should immediately seek medical care;
- Since not everyone infected develops clinical necessity, pregnant women returning from affected regions of the Zika virus must notify their supervising doctor and their pregnancy should be monitored;
- Persons with chronic diseases must consult a doctor before traveling to the affected countries.
In 2016 in the most affected country Brazil is hosting the Olympic Games. World Health Organization recommends travelers to Brazil to take some precautions. Preventive measures such as use repellents, cover their bodies tightly with bright clothing to be isolated from mosquitoes, avoid places where mosquitoes breed like swamps, ponds, and stagnant water.
Authorities in Rio de Janeiro are convinced that the Zika virus will not endanger the Olympic Games, reported NBC News.
According to the health authorities, the activity of mosquitoes infected with the virus will be much smaller due to the upcoming winter season in the country. They do not expect many new cases during the Olympics.
Earlier this year, the country has assured that it will take measures to ensure health security during the games.