How does it spread?
Zika can be transmitted through:
- mosquito bites
- from pregnant mother to foetus
- blood transfusion (likely but not confirmed)
What are the symptoms?
The majority of those infected with Zika have no symptoms and won’t even know they’ve got the virus. In others it can cause a mild illness with symptoms such as:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
How to prevent Zika?
Unfortunately no vaccine currently exists to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here are some precautionary measures you could take:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Use insect repellent
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out
- Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home
- Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex
Should you be concerned about Zika?
People very rarely die from Zika and infected people who have died have had underlying conditions. However, Zika is linked to birth defects.
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly that is a sign of incomplete brain development. Doctors have also found other problems in pregnancies and among foetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth.
So if you or your partner is pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it might be best to take the above precautions and not travel to places with Zika.
How is Zika diagnosed?
- Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results
- A blood or urine test can confirm a Zika infection
- Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya
What to do if you catch Zika?
If you’re diagnosed with Zika, you should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines.
Also do continue use of insect repellent to prevent it from spreading through mosquitos to other people.
Practise safe sex (or abstain):
- Men – consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin
- Women- consider using condoms or not having sex for at least 8 weeks after symptoms begin
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