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What We Need To Know About Zika Virus

Zika virus is an illness that can be transmitted through mosquito bites. It is a flavivirus and is identical to dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya, and West Nile fevers.

What We Need To Know About Zika Virus

It is capable of causing birth and neurological defects. 

What We Need To Know About Zika Virus

The main cause of the zika virus

Zika virus is caused when an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito bites an individual.

The mosquito contracts the infection by biting an individual carrying the virus. Once the mosquito contracts the infection, it is transmitted from one person to another through the bite of this mosquito.

The Aedes aegypti is an aggressive mosquito species. They remain active throughout the day and usually bites in the dark.

The virus can be transmitted from mother to her unborn child through needles and through sexual contact.

The first trial of the zika virus vaccine on humans was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2016. However, there are no medicines or vaccines available for the virus to date.

Symptoms of the viral infection

The majority of zika virus infection cases in humans are devoid of any symptoms. However, if there are any symptoms, they usually last a few days or weeks.

Some of the common symptoms of the zika virus are fever, joint pain, rash, conjunctivitis (red eye), and headache or muscle pain.

Impact of zika virus on pregnancy

During pregnancy, zika virus infection induces microcephaly. This is a neurological condition owing to which a baby is born with an unusually small head.

It can cause acute developmental issues of death in few cases. Zika virus infection may induce other defects at birth, including impaired growth, hearing abilities, and eye problems. 

In some severe cases, it can even cause termination of pregnancy by miscarriage.

According to a report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August of 2018, one out of seven babies born to mothers infected with the virus during pregnancy will exhibit some medical problem attributable to the virus, which includes microcephaly.

However, the CDC also clarifies that there are no possibilities of future pregnancies being affected by the virus if there were prior exposure to the virus.

Probable treatment routes:

Since there are no vaccines or medicines available for zika virus, the primary mode of treatment involves relieving the symptoms.

The patient is advised to be on rest, adequate rehydration, and taking acetaminophen for managing the fever and pain.

Aspirins and anti-inflammatory drugs that non-steroidal in nature like ibuprofen should not be given to zika virus patients. 

The timeline of Zika virus:

The zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in monkeys by a group of scientists. The particular group of scientists it the Zika forest in Uganda for studying yellow fever.

In 1948 the virus was isolated from the mosquito species Aedes Africanus in the zika forest.

The first confirmed case of the zika virus in humans was noted in the year 1964. The patient reportedly had rashes and mild fever, contrary to dengue or chikungunya.

Between 1960 and 1980, very rare cases of zika virus infection in humans were observed in certain West African and Asian countries.

In 2007, the first outbreak of the infection in humans was reported in the Federated States of Micronesia, with 49 confirmed and 185 reported cases. However, no fatalities were recorded.

In 2008 two American researchers were infected with the zika virus in Senegal, one of whom passed on the infection to his wife upon returning to the USA.

The years 2013 and 2014 were marked by huge zika virus outbreak in French Polynesia, with 32000 suspected infection cases.

Few other Pacific Island countries simultaneously reported the infection along with dengue fever breakouts around this time.

In 2015, Brazil confirmed the presence of zika virus infection in the samples it had tested. The findings were forwarded to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This followed by a series of events that eventually led to the confirmation of the presence of the Zika virus in the US and the deactivation of the zika virus emergency response by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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