We cover four quick facts and three easy precautions we can take to protect ourselves from this deadly virus.
The Zika Virus has become a global threat after the 2015 -2016 outbreak. While the situation locally has been isolated and controlled, many of us would still be questioning what we need to do to protect ourselves.
What we need to know
- The Zika virus was first discovered in monkeys and mosquitoes in the Zika forest of Uganda in the late 1940s. Over the decades, the virus has crossed international boundaries to enter the American and Asia regions. The World Health Organisation has called Zika a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and has made it a medical research priority to develop a vaccination for Zika.
- The Zika Virus has very similar symptoms to other mosquito borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. It is medically diagnosed from the rash that appears on the skin about a week after infection. Another distinctive feature of the Zika infection is conjunctivitis. Its treatment is largely symptomatic and Paracetamol is used to control the fever.
- Zika can spread through sexual intercourse and from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. A child affected with Zika at birth, can suffer from abnormal growth of the head. A condition known as microcephaly, it impairs the child’s metal growth, motor functions and speech.
- The symptoms of an adult, affected with a less severe case of Zika may be similar to most mosquito borne diseases. However, in more severe cases, it may cause weakness of the immune system and muscles that may compromise the functioning of vital organs.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
- Get a DEET (Chemically known as N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) mosquito repellent. Application of a DEET mosquito repellent will not just protect you from mosquitoes, it will also wear away other bugs such as ticks and leeches. If you are in the surroundings of thick foliage in particular, a DEET repellent will save you from the bugs.A DEET repellent works to blind the insect’s senses and hence drive it away. Always apply repellent on all exposed areas of the body on the hands and feet in particular. Repellent should also be applied on clothes and above sunscreen for the best protection.
- Before travelling to a Zika affected country , it is best to consult your healthcare provider on what precautions you should take. Most importantly you will be advised to apply a strong repellent, remain indoors and cover your body at all times. You will be advised against travelling if you are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy.
- Particular attention is given to pregnant women in Zika affected areas. If you contract Zika and know of someone who is pregnant near you, it is best to inform them so that they may stay away from the area for a few days.It is crucial to avoid sexual intercourse for some time after contracting Zika, (even if you have made a full recovery). It is also necessary to practice safe sex after you have visited a Zika affected country. You can plan for a pregnancy about half a year after you have made a full recovery.
As we know now, the Zika virus is hard to detect and diagnose. Hence ir may result in dire consequences. Find out more on what a mosquito or insect bite can do to your body. Read more below.
Want to know more about mosquitoes ?
Check out the below articles
The Mysteries of Malaria
About the Zika virus
Subscribe to PRIME Magazine