News of Zika virus (ZIKV) spread around the world. In fact, many countries have recognized it as an outbreak. Now almost all countries are getting vigilant about it. ZIKV is a virus transmitted by daytime Aedis mosquitoes. The name originated in Ugunda and it was first discovered in 1947. If transmitted to humans, it will lead to Zika fever.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of America, about one in five people that are infected with ZIKV become ill. America issued travel warnings to prevent the transmission and spread of the virus. Other government agencies are also issuing the same orders. The virus was first seen within Africa and Asia but in 2014, the virus spread across the Pacific Ocean, French Polynesia, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Here are the things that you need to know about ZIKV:
The most common symptoms of ZIKV include fever, rash, red eyes (also called conjunctivitis) and joint pain. Other patients also reported headache and muscle pain. The scientists do not know yet the incubation period for ZIKV but it is likely few days to one week. Incubation period refers to the period from exposure to when symptoms appear. In most cases, symptoms appear mild during the first few days to one week. The good news is that deaths are rare when one contracts the virus. In fact, few require hospitalization.
Doctors need to distinguish Zika because it has similar symptoms like that of chikungunya and dengue since the virus is transmitted by the same type of mosquitoes. If you think that you are showing symptoms of Zika, it is better to go to the doctor right away. If you visited a country where it is rampant, it is recommended to consult the doctor right away. Doctors may request blood tests to determine Zika or other viruses.
The bad news here is that there are no available vaccines or medications yet to prevent or even treat Zika infections. However, doctors recommend patients to treat it by getting plenty of rest. Taking a few days from work would be beneficial to you and your colleagues since you are preventing the spread of mosquito bites. Drinking lots of fluids can help too as this can prevent dehydration caused by the fever. For medications, it is better to consult doctors first but you can safely take acetaminophen as this can help you relieve pain and fever. Be warned though not to take Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen as well as naproxen. Doctors should first rule out that it is not Zika or dengue before taking NSAIDs. This is to prevent and reduce the risk of bleeding or haemorrhage. If you are taking other medications, consult doctors first before taking NSAIDs. Another thing to do is prevent mosquito bites. This is the most effective thing to prevent Zika since the mosquito bite can transmit the blood and pass it from an infected person to another. The virus will remain in the blood of an infected person for many days before it eventually subsides but it can be longer for some people.
There are vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever virus however, for Zika, it is still under development. According to the Centre for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, it may take up to two years to develop the vaccine. The researchers who are developing the vaccine have broad experience in developing vaccines so there should be no trouble. It will take about ten to twelve years to produce the vaccine for public use. There is a pharmaceutical company that claimed they already developed vaccine for ZIKV but still process approval for public use.
This is good news for everyone. While waiting for the release of the vaccine, the best course of action is to prevent mosquitoes from transmitting it or postponing travel to affected countries. It is always wise to check health or travel advisories to be updated. Other countries like Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ecuador are advising women to postpone getting pregnant until the risks of ZIKV are known.
There are still no known cases here in Singapore but we should continue to be vigilant. Although experts say that ZIKV is likely to outbreak here, additional precautions are in place carried out by the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency.