Zika (pronounced ZEEK-uh) is spread most commonly by mosquito bites. Even though there may not be any symptoms, Zika virus infection, Zika fever, or Zika virus disease is another name for this virus.
Women who have contracted Zika during pregnancy are at greater risk of miscarriage. Infants born with Zika virus infection may also experience complications.
Scientists are working on a vaccine for Zika. To prevent mosquito bites from occurring, it is important to reduce mosquito populations.
Signs of Zika Virus
Zika virus infection does not usually cause symptoms and signs. This virus infection is not common.
These are the most common symptoms and signs of Zika disease.
- Mild fever
- Joint pains, especially in the feet and hands
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
You may also experience the following signs and symptoms
- Muscle pain
- Eye pain
- Feelings that you are tired or have general discomfort include:
- Abdominal pain
When is it advisable to see a doctor?
You should immediately consult your doctor if you think you or someone you know may have Zika disease.
Discuss with your doctor if pregnant or if you have been to an area infected by the Zika virus.
Causes of Zika Virus
Infected mosquito bites spread the Zika virus most often. They are found around the world.
Infected mosquito bites transmit this virus to humans.
Zika virus transmission can occur from pregnancy to birth.
The virus can also spread through sexual contact. Organ donation or blood transfusions can help to prevent the transmission of the virus.
If you have, your chances of getting the Zika virus are higher.
- There is always a risk when you travel to Zika-infected countries.
- Unprotected sexual activity. Zika can be spread via sex.
Miscarriage, stillbirths, and preterm births are all possible for pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus during pregnancy.
- Mirocephaly refers to smaller brain size and head than the average, with a partially collapsed body
- Brain tissue and brain damage
- Eye damage
- Joint problems, including limited motion
- A reduction in body movement can be caused by too much muscle tone.
Zika virus infection can cause brain and nervous system problems in adults, even though they don’t have any symptoms.
The Zika virus is not a vaccine. You can minimize your exposure by taking certain steps.
If you’re pregnant or considering getting pregnant, these tips will help to reduce the chances of contracting Zika.
- Take care when planning your travel. The CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus is endemic.
Discuss your plans with your doctor if you want to have a baby. You might be advised to wait until you return from vacation before trying to conceive.
- Safe sex. The CDC advises against sex with a partner that has been to an affected area by the Zika.
If you live or travel to an area where this virus is common, you can lower your chances of being bitten.
- Keep your home well-sealed and conditioned.
- Wear protective clothing when traveling to areas infested by mosquitoes.
- You can use insect repellent.
- Reduce mosquito habitat. Drain any standing water sources at minimum once per week.
Blood donation and Zika virus
Zika virus can sometimes spread through blood transfusions. If you are a person with Zika or have traveled to countries where Zika is common, you might be asked to wait four weeks before you donate blood.
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and travel history. Be sure to describe all international travels including dates, countries visited, and contacts with mosquitoes.
Your doctor may recommend a blood or urine test if you suspect you have the Zika virus. Blood or urine samples can also be taken to test for other mosquito-borne diseases.
If you or your partner have traveled to areas where active Zika transmission occurred, it is a good idea to consult your doctor.
If you are pregnant, or at high risk of Zika infection, your doctor may recommend the following procedures:
- An ultrasound of a fetus to examine for brain disorders
- An amniocentesis procedure involves inserting a hollow needle into the uterus to take a sample of the amniotic fluid. This procedure is used to test for Zika.
Treatment for Zika Virus
Zika virus infection is not treatable. Acetaminophen (a prescription medication like Tylenol) may be used to ease joint pain and fever.
Zika symptoms are similar to those of other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever. Avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen, (Aleve) until you are diagnosed with dengue.
Get ready for your appointment
Your primary physician is likely to be your first stop. A specialist in travel medicine and infectious diseases might be referred.
Appointments are usually short and can cover a lot of information. Here are some tips and things you can expect from your doctor.
What you can do?
Take note of any symptoms you may be experiencing that are not related to your appointment.
- Take note of important personal information. Keep track of all vaccinations, including pre-travel ones.
- Keep track of all medications. Include any vitamins or supplements you regularly take.
- List any questions that you would like to ask your doctor. If you are running out of time, order your questions by importance.
The following are some basic questions that you should ask your doctor regarding Zika virus infection:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What type of tests do I need?
- What are the options?
- When will I feel better?
- Are there long-term side effects?
- Do you have any brochures or printed materials you could send me? What websites would you recommend?
What should you expect from your doctor?
You should be prepared to answer any questions your doctor may ask.
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Are your plans to get pregnant or are you already pregnant? Do condoms work for you?
- Are you experiencing persistent or intermittent symptoms?
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- Are your symptoms getting worse or better?
- Where have you been in the past month?
- Are you bitten by mosquitoes while driving?
- Have you been in touch with someone who has recently fallen ill?