In the know: Zika virus
People infected with the Zika virus may develop a mild fever, skin rashes and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Others may also experience joint and muscle pains, fatigue or headaches. The symptoms normally last from two to seven days.
The virus is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes, mainly the Aedes aegypti in tropical regions, the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Zika was first detected in Uganda in 1947 but not on a massive scale. Outbreaks were reported in the Pacific in 2007 and in 2013. In 2015, the outbreaks in South America and Africa began.
More than 20 countries in South America have reported cases of the Zika virus, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Ecuador, Haiti, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Bolivia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Barbados.
Local health authorities in Brazil have observed an increase in Zika virus infections and in cases of babies born with microcephaly, that rare condition of having an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development. Health agencies investigating the Zika virus are finding increasing evidence of a link between the two.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that more investigation and research are needed to understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus.
The virus is not known to be fatal and usually causes relatively mild symptoms. No vaccine is currently available against it, and the best form of prevention is using insect repellent and other means of protection from mosquito bites.
There is no specific treatment, aside from getting plenty of rest, drinking enough fluids, and treating the fever with common medication.
The WHO is enhancing surveillance of the virus and its potential complications. The health organization is also strengthening the capacity of laboratories to detect the virus and preparing a set of recommendations for the clinical care and monitoring of persons infected by it. Inquirer Research
Sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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