Zika Virus: What you Need to Know

The Zika virus is the latest disease threat to hit American shores. If you don’t know about it or haven’t heard the latest news, it’s important to get the information you need to make sure your family is protected.

  1. What Is The Zika Virus?

The Zika Virus is a rare disease spread and carried by the Aedes Genus of Mosquitoes once they are infected. These mosquitos are commonly found in tropical regions like Africa. This is why you must be careful when travelling abroad to places below the equator. However, the disease has also been seen in the Asian-Tiger Mosquito. Unlike, the Aedes Genus these pests often fly further north in the summer when the weather picks up. As of now, there have been no documented cases of the disease in America. With the exception of people who have picked it up while travelling abroad. At the same time, however, that could change in the summer when these Mosquitos venture to hotter climates.

2) How Is The Zika Virus Transmitted?

If you are bitten by a Mosquito carrying this virus, there is a chance that you could pick it up yourself. But, it’s important to realise that a bite doesn’t necessarily mean you will pick up the disease. You could be lucky and avoid contraction. It’s also worth remembering this disease isn’t prevalent in all Mosquitos. Before you panic and lock yourself indoors, remember this. At this time, there’s only a small possibility you could contract this virus due to imported cases.

3) Where Is Zika Typically Found?

These Mosquitos and the virus itself is predominantly found in more tropical climates. In particular, the Zika virus is believed to have originated in the Zika Forest of Uganda. It was first discovered in 1947. You might be wondering why it’s only cropping up in the news now with alarming regularity. Up until 1968, it was never expected to spread to humans. Even then, the disease was rare, found only in certain parts of Africa. Now it has been found in other places in Europe, Asia and even Central America. Although again, documented cases were only from patients who had travelled to infected areas. Similar to the Ebola virus, it’s a disease that has been imported into the country. Rather than being contracted here.

4) Is There A Chance Zika Will Be Found In Southern California?

There are two ways this virus could be found in Southern California. First, while it is unlikely these Mosquitos will be found in America, it is possible. This is due to the hotter temperatures in the north as a result of global warming. A much more likely spread of an outbreak would be from an imported source. A patient could contract the disease. A mosquito could then bite the patient, become infected and spread it to another. In this way, the disease could be spread frighteningly quickly. Local authorities are aware of this possibility and will be watching closely as we near the summer months.

5) What Are The Symptoms Of Zika? Is There A Treatment For Zika?

One of the biggest issues with the virus is that symptoms are rare. Only around 1 in 5 infected patients show any signs they have the disease. For many it goes largely undetected. If you do experience symptoms, it could be anything from a rash, fever or joint pains. You might also suffer from conjunctivitis.

The disease has no treatment and no vaccination currently available. Although the government is currently hard at work on developing a cure. There seems to be very little evidence to suggest that the disease is deadly but it is self-limiting. Sufferers should get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated.

6) What About Zika And Birth Defects?

While there is very little research to show a link between mothers passing on the virus to a baby, there is research currently going on in Brazil. There have been several major outbreaks of the virus in that country and it also appears to be linked to Microcephaly. This stops brain development in newborns and over 2000 cases were reported in Brazil in 2015.

7) How Can I Prevent Infection?

There are two ways to prevent infection. The first is to make sure that you and your family are protected when outdoors. You should be wearing insect repellant. If you spend a long duration of the day outside, you might want to wear long sleeved shirts and pants. This will reduce the chance of bites.

You also need to think about reducing the chance of a mosquito infection in your home. You can do this removing any stagnant water from the property, keeping windows and doors properly secure. Mosquito netting is the best form of defence if you like leaving your windows and doors open.