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Sunday, April 10, 2016

What You Need To Know About the Zika Virus

zvcThe Zika virus is essentially transmitted to people when one is bit by an infected mosquito mostly found in tropical regions. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The virus belongs to the same family as Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow fever and West Nile. However, unlike some of the aforementioned viruses, there is currently no vaccine that can be used to prevent or even treat the infection. Until recently, Zika was largely an obscure virus confined to Asia and Equatorial Africa. So health care is an important thing.

The virus was first discovered in the year 1947 when a handful of scientists making a study of the Yellow fever in the Zika forest Uganda stumbled on a virus hitherto unknown. The scientists made the discovery of the unknown virus at the time in a feverish rhesus monkey. Fast forward to the year 1958 and it was discovered that the virus was mainly transmitted or spread through the bite of the aggressive Aedes mosquito though it can also be spread sexually.

The major cause of concern about the virus is its peculiar and alarming connection to microcephaly. Microcephaly is essentially a neurological disorder resulting to newborns spotting an abnormally smaller head. The resultant effect is of cause severe developmental issues and in extreme circumstances, death. From November 2015, Brazil alone has registered 4180 cases of microcephaly in babies born to women that acquired the virus during pregnancy. This is a far cry to the meager 146 cases that were registered in the year 2014.

How the Zika virus is spread

Transmission of the Zika virus is primarily through the Aedes mosquito. The virus is transmitted when the Aedes mosquito bites a person with an active infection and thereafter spreading it through biting other people. The symptoms of the virus are not severe but mild and include possible pink eye, fever, headache as well as a rash. In fact, up to 80% of individuals infected with the virus never have an idea that they are infected.

What you can do to protect yourself against Zika

Considering the fact that there exists no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus, the only way to protect oneself from the virus is through taking preventative measures. For starters, you can desist from travelling to areas with an active infestation. Secondly, you should avoid mosquito bites by sleeping under a mosquito net. Thirdly, make it a habit to wear long sleeved shirts as well as long pants that are thick enough to prevent a mosquito bite. Fourthly, ensure that you sleep in lodgings with screened windows and air conditioned rooms. If you are already infected from the virus, the best way to keep people around you safe is through taking measures not to be bitten by a mosquito.

What is being done to stop Zika?

Efforts to create a Zika vaccine have taken center stage with researchers doing everything in their power to ensure that the Zika virus is a thing of the past. However, until there is a breakthrough, it is important for people to implement conventional mosquito control techniques such as emptying standing water which is a fertile mosquito breeding ground, sleeping under nets as well as spraying pesticides.

Zika, Dengue And The Mosquito

Zika and dengue transmission.

zdI think by now, most people have heard about these 2 viruses; zika and dengue. These viruses have their origin on the African continent, and were originally only transmitted by mosquitoes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is the most important culprit, but the viruses have adapted, and they are currently transmitted by a wide variety of day-active mosquitoes.

Over the last 10 years, both zika and dengue have evolved into a real pandemic, making victims all over the planet, though dengue has a much more lethal reputation.
Dengue causes 10.000 to 20.000 casualties per year, while zika has caused only a very limited number of casualties. The problem with zika, however, is that it often causes serious complications in pregnant women, leading to miscarriage and severe malformation of the unborn child. Health care is very important for your life.


The symptoms of both zika and dengue are, in most cases, rather mild. High fever, severe headache which concentrates in and around the eyes, joint pains and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms are easily confused with those of the flu.

Dengue victims usually also have a skin rash, and when they start recovering from the virus, they will experience some uncontrollable muscular spasms, which usually subside after a few hours.
What makes dengue so dangerous, is that there are sometimes serious complications which are often, but not only, caused by the age and health condition of the victims. Other reasons for complications can be an earlier infection with one of the 4 other types of dengue. Apart from the mild form, there are also the hemorrhagic dengue and the dengue shock. Any of these 2 complications are to be considered dangerous and potentially deadly, though the last one is the worst.

Hemorrhagic dengue causes the victim to have spontaneous bleedings, both internally and externally (nose, eyes,... ). It also causes low levels of blood platelets and blood plasm leakage. This condition can evolve further into dengue shock, where the victim experiences dangerously low blood pressure, which can force the body to go into shock. A dengue vaccine has been developed in 2010, but it is not yet commercially available. For zika, a vaccine is yet to be developed. Dengue is only being transmitted by mosquitoes, whereas zika has recently been confirmed to also being transmitted sexually.

Climate change

One of the Major reasons these viruses have created a worldwide pandemic, is the increase of long distance traveling over the last 20 years. But there is another reason which plays an important part in the spreading of both dengue and zika. Climate change!

The global warming has not only given the virus-spreading mosquitoes more viable territory, it has also increased their lifespan and the number of hours they remain active during the day! You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see where that will lead to. Because of that, diseases which were previously under control, such as malaria, are now making a comeback. Zika and dengue are even spreading in central Europe! Protecting yourself against mosquitoes becomes therefore more important every year, no matter where you live.