Zika Virus: Overview, Prevention, Symptoms, Testing & Treatment

Medically reviewed by William Gonzales, MD FACT CHECKED

I have tried to discuss most of the important aspects of the Zika virus. In this overview of the Zika virus, I am going to discuss what exactly is Zika virus?

What are the symptoms of the Zika virus? I have also included some of the complications that might arise when and if someone gets infected with the Zika virus.

At the same time, you would be able to find details about the tests & diagnosis of the Zika virus.

Not to miss, I have also included some of the most important treatments and preventions when it comes to the Zika virus.

Zika Virus is a causal agent of a viral infection which is quite similar to the flu virus. This infection caused by the Zika virus is called Zika fever or simply Zika virus disease.

It is a contiguous infection and can be easily transmitted. Aedes mosquito acts as the carrier for this virus and it can spread by mosquito biting.

Although, there are other ways of transmission such as sharing food or being in contact with the droplets of the person such as droplets released during coughing or sneezing.

It can also be spread from a person to another through sexual intercourse or from a mother to its child during pregnancy.

It was first discovered in apes in Uganda. Later on, it was found out that humans can catch the infection as well. It was mostly found in Africa and other surrounding countries.

Also, it was spread to Central America and from there, it became widespread and was found in other parts of the world as well. It is mostly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

This is a mild disease and does not have serious repercussions in most cases. But, in some cases, it may be dangerous and may cause many serious health problems.

Detailed information.

Symptoms of Zika Virus

The symptoms of the Zika Virus are mild, just like any other viral infection. But it has been noticed that most of the people with Zika virus infection do not show any signs or symptoms of the disease.

In case symptoms are shown, they last up to 3-8 days. Symptoms do not instantly occur. Instead, they begin after a period of time which may extend up to 14 days in some people.

During the incubation time or the time from exposure to infection, until the symptoms occur, the virus resides inside the body and may cause complications.

Usually, symptoms include fever, pain behind the eyes, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, itchy and red eyes, tearing up and headaches.

In a few rare cases, the symptoms might aggregate and the patient may experience problems like skin rashes, conjunctivitis, joint pain, hearing loss and dengue fever.

More on it here.

Complications due to Zika Virus

In many cases, Zika Virus leaves the person suffering from it completely drained. The person is extremely low on energy which can cause serious problems and many changes in lifestyle.

In the case of pregnant women, it may have a direct impact on the fetus and may also result in prenatal death or stillbirth. Also, it may affect the brain and the central nervous system.

In many cases, it causes underdevelopment of the brain in the fetus and the baby may be born with many learning-related disorders or form defaulted organs and malformation of the limbs.

It is responsible for causing birth defects such as ‘microcephaly’, a birth disorder where the baby is born with an abnormally small head as compared to the body.

Not only these but certain types of defects in the fetuses are being found. These groups of defects have been covered under an umbrella term: congenital Zika syndrome.

It has been seen that babies that were born from mother exposed to the virus had problems such as decreased muscle and joint movement.

This is because of the excessive muscle tone and improper formation of joints that result in limited motion of the joint. It also causes damage to vital organs such as the back of the eye is damaged.

Zika virus results in deposition of calcium in the brain tissues that damages them and this causes developmental disorders.

Once the baby is born, it may experience seizures throughout life. In some unfortunate cases, the baby may be miscarried.

Zika virus can also compromise the immunity and this may result in making the body prone to other deadly infections.

Autoimmune disorders can be caused due to the viral infection as it may lead to self-destruction of nerves by the immune cells.

Zika Virus infection causes many diseases but is also linked to other problems and may aggravate them such as neuropathy or motor and cognitive impairment. The infection may cause late neurological syndromes and disorders.

Detailed discussion could be found here.

Zika Virus Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no such treatment for the virus itself. Researchers are working hard to find a vaccine for Zika Virus.

Until then, some over-the-counter medication can be used to provide relief from symptoms and body aches or pains such as aspirin and acetaminophen.

Rest is left for the body to fight the infection. The immunity of the person having the infection determines how fast the recovery would be.

During the time period, when a body is fighting off infection, healthy and nutritious food must be taken in order to keep healthy and avoid further decline in health.

Food rich in protein must be taken so that good immunity is build and proper support is provided to the body. Also, one must take plenty of fluids and take proper rest and try not to exhaust the body.

Zika Virus Prevention

 

  • Don’t leave stagnant water around you. This will reduce the chances of mosquito breeding. It is found that mosquito control in an area could drastically reduce the chances of the spread of the virus in that place.
  • Chemical pesticides can be used to kill mosquitoes and avoid infection but their use should be limited and carefully monitored in order to avoid toxicity. Also, keep harmful chemicals pesticides away from water bodies.
  • Sleep with a mosquito net on.
  • Use mosquito repellents frequently. Eucalyptus or any other herbal spray would help in keeping mosquitoes away.
  • Sanitize your surroundings properly.
  • Take good care of your hygiene.
  • Eat healthy and nutritious food.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Avoid traveling to places where there is an outbreak, especially if you are pregnant or planning to conceive in the next six months.
  • In case you live in an area that is prone to the disease or an outbreak has occurred, avoid stepping out too frequently, wear clothes that cover your arms and legs well and take proper precautions.
  • Avoid donating blood or organs if you have been exposed to the virus in the last 6 months.

Diagnosis & Tests For Zika virus

The infection can be detected or suspected on the basis of symptoms shown. If symptoms do not occur, one can still get him/herself tested to make sure.

Zika Virus infection can be detected by laboratory tests of blood or it can be other body fluids such as urine since the presence of the virus is found there as well.

If you are tested positive for the viral infection, immediately avoid being in contact with others. Abstain from ant sexual activity for the course of the infection and even after recovering, make sure to practice safe sex.

Take proper care of your health and try to stay as active as possible. Avoid being idle for too long and try to indulge in moderate exercise or slight body movement and stretching.

The body might be dehydrated so try to rehydrate by taking 8-10 glasses of plain water or adding
electrolytes to it.

Get a proper amount of sleep and make sure the body is fully rested to ease body aches. Good sleep can help the body in recovering quickly and is proven to boost immunity and appetite.

Consume food rich in Vitamins and Minerals so that the immune system remains healthy and performs its functions well.

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