Zika virus Symptoms, Cause, Precaution & Treatment

Zika virus (ZEEkuh) is most commonly transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, primarily in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Most people infected with the Zika virus have no signs or symptoms. Some people have a low-grade fever, skin rash, and muscle pain. In rare cases, the Zika virus can cause brain or nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, even in people who never have symptoms of infection. Researchers are working on a vaccine against the Zika virus. Right now, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito habitat. This article discusses Zika virus Symptoms, Cause, Precaution & Treatment.


Zika Virus Symptoms

Up to 4 in 5 people infected with the Zika virus have no signs or symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they usually start 2 to 14 days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms usually last about a week, and most people make a full recovery.


Signs and symptoms of the Zika virus most commonly include

  • Mild fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain, especially in the hands or feet
  • Red eyes (conjunctivitis)

Other signs and symptoms may include


  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Eye pain
  • Fatigue or a general feeling of discomfort
  • Abdominal pain 
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When to Consult a Doctor?

See your doctor if you think you or a family member may have the Zika virus symptoms, especially if you have recently traveled to an area where there is an ongoing outbreak. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts blood tests to look for the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses.

If you’re pregnant and have recently traveled to an area where the Zika virus symptoms are common, ask your doctor about getting tested even if you don’t have symptoms. 

What Causes Zika virus? 

Most often, the Zika virus is transmitted to a human through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes known to transmit the virus include two species of Aedes mosquito found around the world.

When a mosquito bites a person who is already infected with the Zika virus, the virus infects the mosquito. If the infected mosquito, then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream and causes an infection.


Zika virus can also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy.

The virus can also be transmitted from person to person through sexual contact. In some cases, people contract the virus through blood transfusions or organ donation. 

Risk Factors

Some of the factors that put you at higher risk of contracting the Zika virus include:

  1. Living or traveling in countries where outbreaks have occurred: Staying in tropical and subtropical areas increases the risk of exposure to the Zika virus. Areas at particularly high risk include several Pacific islands, several Central, South, and North American countries, and islands near West Africa. Since the mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus can be found around the world, the outbreaks are likely to continue to spread to new regions.
  2. Most cases of Zika virus infection in the US have been reported in travelers returning to the US.S. from other areas. But the mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus live in some parts of the United States and its territories. Local transmission has been reported in Florida, Texas, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
  3. Having unprotected sex: The Zika virus can be transmitted from person to person through sexual intercourse. Unprotected sex can increase the risk of Zika virus infection for up to three months after travel. For this reason, pregnant women whose sexual partners have recently lived in or traveled to an area where the Zika virus is common to use a condom during sexual activity or abstain from sexual activity until the baby is born. All other couples can also reduce the risk of sexual transmission by using a condom or abstaining from sexual activity for up to three months after the trip.

Complications Caused by the Zika virus

  • Women who contract the Zika virus during pregnancy are at increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth. Infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy also increases the risk of serious birth defects in babies (congenital Zika syndrome), including:
  • A much smaller brain and head size (microcephalus) with a partially collapsed skull
  • Brain damage and Reduced brain tissue
  • Eye damage
  • Joint problems, including restricted movement
  • Restricted body movements due to excessive muscle tone after birth
  • In adults, Zika virus infection can lead to brain or nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre syndrome in people who never show symptoms of infection. 

Prevention

There is no vaccine to protect against the Zika virus. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. If you or your partner are pregnant or want to become pregnant, these tips can help reduce your risk of Zika virus infection:

  1. Plan your trip carefully. The CDC recommends that all pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus has broken out.
  2. If you are trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about whether you or your partner’s upcoming travel plans increase your risk of Zika virus infection. Your doctor may suggest that you and your partner wait two to three months after travel before trying to conceive.
  3. Practice safe sex. If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where the Zika virus has broken out, the CDC recommends that you avoid sex during pregnancy or use a condom in all sexual activities. 

If you live or travel in areas where the Zika virus is known to be present, take steps to reduce the risk of mosquito bites:

  1. Stay in air-conditioned or well-protected accommodation. The mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus are most active from morning to night, but can also bite at night. Consider sleeping under a mosquito net, especially when you are outside.
  2. Wear protective clothing. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes when entering mosquito areas.
  3. Use mosquito repellent. You can apply permethrin to your clothes, shoes, camping gear, and mosquito nets. You can also buy clothes made with permethrin. Use a repellant on your skin that contains DEET, picaridin, or any of the other active ingredients registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and known to be effective against mosquitos. When used as directed, these personal repellants have been shown to be safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  4. Reduce mosquito habitat. The mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus typically live in and around homes and breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in containers such as animal dishes, flower pots, and used car tires. Drain all sources with standing water at least once a week to reduce mosquito populations. 

Zika Virus Transmission by Blood Donation

In some cases, the Zika virus is spread from person to person through blood donation (blood transfusion). To reduce the risk of spread by blood transfusion, blood donation centers in the United States and its territories are required to monitor all blood donators for the Zika virus.

If you have had Zika virus symptoms or live in the United States and have recently traveled to an area where the Zika virus has spread, your local blood donor center may recommend that you wait four weeks to donate blood. 

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