Zika virus symptoms, transmission, prevention explained

The Zika virus, which is related to dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile virus, is transmitted mostly by mosquito bites from infected Aedes species.

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Zika Virus
Zika can be transmitted through mosquito bites, from a pregnant woman to her foetus, through sexual contact and transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation. (AFP Photo)

More than 60 people have been infected with the Zika virus in Kerala, while Maharashtra confirmed on Saturday that a 50-year-old lady from the Pune area had tested positive for the illness. According to officials, Kerala reported its first incidence of Zika virus in a pregnant woman on July 8, and three of the 63 current cases are active, with none being hospitalised.

Officials in Maharashtra have asked residents not to be scared, stating that the woman who was diagnosed with Zika has fully recovered.

How does the Zika virus spread?

Zika virus, which is similar to dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus, is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquitos mainly Aedes aegypti. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon or evening, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

How Zika is transmitted?

Zika can be transmitted through mosquito bites, from a pregnant woman to her foetus, through sexual contact and transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Many people infected with the Zika virus will not have symptoms or will only have mild ones. Symptoms generally include mild including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache, and usually last for two to seven days. The incubation period or the time from exposure to symptoms of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3 to 14 days, according to WHO.

Infected people rarely become sick enough to go to the hospital, and they rarely die from Zika. Once infected with Zika, they may be protected against future infections.

How is Zika diagnosed?

Diagnosis of Zika may be based on symptoms of those living in or visiting areas with Zika virus transmission or Aedes mosquito vectors. A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed by laboratory tests of blood or other body fluids, such as urine or semen, says WHO.

How to prevent Zika?

There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

What to do if you have Zika?

You should get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. You should avoid taking aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and talk to your doctor if you are taking medicine for another medical condition.

Is Zika risky for some people?

WHO says that Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. It is also linked to other problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth and other birth defects. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which affects the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika, according to WHO.

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