Zika Virus – Things you must know to protect your family

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At the end of January, World Health Organization (WHO) warned about Zika becoming a globe pandemic and there would be nearly 4 millions people infected in this year. So, what is Zika?

WHERE DID ZIKA COME FROM?

Zika Virus (ZIKV) is a member of family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus. The “Zika” was named after the Zika forest in Uranda, where this virus was first identified.

Zika originated from another species (monkey) then was delivered to human and spread among them by transmission of daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, concretely Aedes Aegypti. Zika has appeared in tropical climate Africa and Asia since 1950, after had travelled though many areas ( crossed Pacific ocean to French Polynesia, continued to Easter Island ) then surprisingly outbroke in South America as a pandemic in 5/2015 including Brazil which was the most effected country with 1.500.000 cases ( 0,72% of population ).

WHERE HAS ZIKA SPREAD?

The vector transmitting Zika to human is Aedes mosquito, which is common in many places. The suitable temperature for this kind to survive is about 20 to 25 Celsius, including tropical country and ones having temperate climate. In addition, Aedes mosquito can strongly grow, even in tiny empty cans containing water. Therefore, up to February 2016, ECDC ( Erupe Centers of Disease Control and Prevention ) declared 31 countries where Zika has been identified.

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cabo Verde
  • Colombia
  • Curacao
  • Dominica Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guiadelope
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Paraguay
  • Panama
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Martin
  • Suriname
  • Thailand
  • Venezuela
  • Virgin Islands
  • Fiji
  • Maldives
  • New Caledonia
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands

Margaget Chan, the Director-General of the WHO considered Zika is extremely fast spreading and worth alerting. In Venezuela, the number of people who were considered that had infected Zika virus has been 4.700, in Brazil from 500.000 to 1.500.000. The WHO estimated that the Zika could infect 4 millions people by the end of 2016.

Countries have suspected cases that Zika infected in last 9 months
Countries have suspected cases that Zika infected in last 9 months

WHY IS ZIKA SO DANGEROUS?

In human, Zika virus causes no symptoms or a mild illness called Zika fever. People may misunderstand it with diseases yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya because of the same transmission by Aedes mosquito and the similar common symptoms such as: fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. These symptoms begin about 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, last for several days to a week and rarely die.

However, Zika is still dangerous because of 3 reason:

  1. In adult, infected situation can lead to Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder of the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The most typical symptom is hands and foot became weaker and weaker, then spread to all body. It will life-threating when this weakness effects breathing muscles and autonomic nervous system, which causes danger because of interfering blood pressure or heart rate.
  1. There are only 20% of cases which were infected Zika virus show symptoms. It means the other 80% don’t know that Zika virus is living inside their body, as the result there aren’t any methods to prevent the desease spreads. Zika is easily transmited though mosquito bite, in addition, there was a case show that it can be transmitted though sexual contact. In 2009, a man, a biologist, sexually transmitted Zika virus to his wife after had visited Senegal to study mosquitoes and been bitten. Therefore, we can clearly find out that Zika spread’s speed more and more fast and uncontrollable which urgently needs goverments and experts’ interference.
Areas have rapid Zika spread (red) and slow Zika spread(yellow)
Areas have rapid Zika spread (red) and slow Zika spread(yellow)
  1. It is believed that this desease also has vertical perinatal transmission, which means the Zika virus can be spead from mother to child in womb and causes microcephaly (the condition that newborn baby’s head is smaller than others of the same age and sex) for the child. Together with Zika’s outbreak in Brazil, until now, there have been about 4 000 cases of microcephaly in this country, more than 30 times the number of cases reported every year since 2010. In addition, during a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on February 1,  Margaret Chan, the Director-general of the WHO, claimed that there is possible the link between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in newborn babies.

MORE CLEARLY ABOUT MICROCEPHALY

Microcephaly is a congenital disease causes abnormal smallness of the head hindering brain development. The danger-level of illness depends on different cases. Normally, the patient will be affected in intellectual disability and problems with motor function. Moreover, this disease can bring about convulsions.

Microcephaly rises from many different factors of gene and environment such as foetal alcohol syndrome, radiation exposure or rubella. Until recently, it is found that microcephaly is also caused by the outbreak of Zika virus. When pregnant women get Zika virus, they are usually unaware of it. The majority just realize the problem when their baby is born or years later. Because temporarily there is no cure and vaccine for microcephaly, women who has traveled to Central and South America, the Caribbean, Samoa or Tonga is advised not to get pregnant until having more information about the virus.

In total, the South American nation had about 4000 cases of microcephaly in 2015, which was just 150 in 2014. This large number has increased alarmingly.

Microcephaly is condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.
Microcephaly is condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.

THERAPEUTIC METHOD

The experts are still researching the development of vaccines and means of improving vaccine safety and efficacy.

Listed below are some treatment the symptoms of it:

  • Get more rest and drink fluids to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Relieve fever and pain by medicine.
  • Because there is haemorrhagic phenomenon, you must not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without permission of doctor.
  • Inform the healthcare provider if you plan to travel to places where Zika has appeared as well as you has symptom of Zika virus diseases.

HOW TO PREVENT?

Of course, to avoid being infected virus Zika, you need to stay away from areas which Zika was identified. Check out which country is safe before having a trip. However, if you have to travel to countries having Zika, take some notes:

  • Avoid being bit by mosquito, which runs mostly during the daytime.
  • Take notes when traveling to countries where Zika virus are found:
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
    • Use air conditioning or remember to close window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
    • Sleep under a mosquito bed net is necessary.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents or other mosquito resisting measures:
    • Always obey the product label instructions.
    • Do not spray repellent directly on the skin.
    • In case using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Be careful when contacting to people with Zika virus because it can be infected, especially the first week of illness.

IN THE END…

Up to now, governments are having many positive move to deal with this disease. Laboratories in many countries are woking on finding out vaccine and developing a test which can identify the virus Zika in the first week of illness or in a affected child. CDC and WHO are positively alerting healthcare providers and the public about Zika, widely providing information and kind of treatments for everybody. But prevention is the key. We have to aware of protecting ourselves. The point is controlling mosquitos, don’t let them survive in your house as well as try to keep not being bitten. It may be some simple things you have to do but helps you stay away from this dangerous disease.