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Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

March 07, 2016
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Zika virus is a disease that is spread through the infection of the Aedes mosquito. It's similar to dengue, West Nile virus and yellow fever. While the virus is usually mild (80% of cases will not be diagnosed), a large concern lies on pregnant women and people who could get a temporary form of paralysis after they become infected. While there isn't a vaccine for the virus, there are a few steps that can be taken to avoid obtaining the disease. Avoiding mosquito bites is the biggest step that can be taken to not getting Zika. While this can be easier said than done, there are a few things that can prevent one from getting bitten. By wearing bug spray and long sleeves, there is less risk to be exposed to the virus. Secondly, the Aedes mosquito is known to bite during the day. Therefore be extra cautious to wear long sleeves and insect repellent during sunlight hours. Most people with the Zika virus won't know that they have the disease because there often aren't symptoms. The incubation period is roughly several days to a week. Most patients, however, won't get sick enough to go to the hospital and the disease rarely causes death. If symptoms do occur, they are most commonly:
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint Pain
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Muscle Pain
  • Headache
There currently is not a medicine to fight off Zika but there are ways to help speed up the recovery process. Treatment is a similar regimen to fighting the flu. By getting lots of rest, drinking fluids to avoid dehydration, and taking acetaminophen to relieve fever/pain, the virus should subside after a week or so. After someone gets infected once, they are less likely to get the virus again. shutterstock_369227078 Zika can be transmitted in multiple different ways. The first, and most common, is from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Once the mosquito bites someone with the disease, they can easily pass it on by biting someone else. Zika can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy. This transmission is the most dangerous when it comes to the virus. Sexual contact and blood transfusion are other, less common, forms of spreading the disease. There has yet to be a recorded case of Zika being spread through blood transfusion in the United States, however. The Zika virus began in 1947 in Uganda. Prior to 2015, it was only prevalent in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. However since May 2015, Zika hit Brazil and has been widely spreading to the Western Hemisphere. In the United States, the Aedes mosquito is only common in Florida, the Gulf Coast and Hawaii but can go up further north in the summer months. If you have been to a country with Zika or have been developing the symptoms you read about here, see a healthcare provider in order to get proper treatment. All facts in this article are from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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