The Zika virus is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes mosquito , this mosquito is the same that transmits Dengue and Chikungunya, which was discovered in 1947 in monkeys from the Zika forest of Uganda in Africa, hence its name . This virus is of the Flavivirus genus and belongs to the flaviviridaes family.

In 2007, the first outbreak of the disease was detected and Zika was classified as an emerging infectious disease, capable of spreading to areas where the Aedes mosquito is present. And that’s how in 2014 the virus reached Easter Island and later reached America.

How the Zika virus spreads

There are two types of Aedes mosquitoes, the aegypti that cannot survive in cold climates and the albopictus, which is capable of living in cooler climates. These mosquitoes become infected by biting and having contact with the blood of an infected person, in this way they will transmit the virus to a healthy person by biting again.

Other transmission mechanisms are usually:

  1. From mother to child: If the mother is infected with the virus, at the time of delivery the baby will also be infected. It can occur even before birth since the virus is capable of crossing the placental barrier, on the other hand, it is important to inform the population that the virus cannot be transmitted through breastfeeding.
  2. Through sexual contact: the virus can be transmitted from man to woman through semen, since the half-life of the virus is longer in it than in blood.
  3. Through blood transfusions: since the virus is present in the blood of infected people, through blood transfusion it passes directly into the bloodstream of the other person . 

Also considered risk factors for contracting the Zika virus, having traveled to regions where there have been recent cases of infection.

Zika virus symptoms

In general, the virus presents a benign course. The symptoms appear 7 days after the person has been infected by the mosquito, because this is the incubation period of the virus, where there are no symptoms and sometimes it can extend up to 12 days, this means that you will know that you have the disease 7 to 12 days after being stung.

This disease can present moderately or without symptoms and is usually characterized by the presence of specific symptoms such as:

  • Fever or moderately elevated body temperature, which is why it is also known as Zika fever .
  • Redness of the eyes without discharge or itching.
  • Erythematous skin rash (red dots) that is usually less itchy than the Chikungunya virus rash.
  • Sporadic joint pains, not as strong as those that occur in Chikungunya.
  • Muscle aches and back pain
  • Headache or headache
  • In some cases, congenital neurological problems have been seen, cases of microcephaly have been observed in babies of mothers who had Zika during pregnancy.

In addition, they must have a history of having been in countries with the presence of the Aedes mosquito or on Easter Island during the two weeks prior to the onset of symptoms, or that the patient’s sexual partner has returned from a trip to places with mosquitoes of this species in the last month.

Zika Prevention and Treatment 

The prevention of Zika is based on the reduction or elimination of mosquitoes by discarding the breeding places (rubbers that may contain rainwater, buckets of water without lids in the open, flowers or plants capable of retaining rainwater, etc.) because the mosquito needs water to reproduce.

The use of mosquito nets is also recommended to reduce contact between mosquitoes and people, the use of air conditioning, the use of repellants and finally it is recommended to protect doors and windows with metal mesh.

As it is a virus, the treatment is symptomatic, that is, the symptoms that appear will be treated. In most cases, hospitalization is not warranted and can be treated at home.

In general, it is recommended that the patient remain at rest, the intake of abundant fluids to replace possible losses, the use of acetaminophen or paracetamol as an antipyretic and analgesic, to calm fever and joint, muscle pain and headache is the first option.

The use of antihistamines or antiallergics is also recommended for squid the itching associated with the rash.

If you have any other symptoms or if the patient’s neurological status is very deteriorated, it is advisable to visit your doctor again.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *