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Zika Virus

Virus

A virus (from the Latin virus meaning toxin or poison). Viruses are a very simple kind of germ. They are smaller and simpler than other common germs, such as bacteria and fungi. Viruses are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Viruses are capsules with genetic material inside (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protective coat of protein. They are capable of latching onto cells and getting inside them.                                                                             

They can’t multiply on their own, so they have to invade a ‘host’ cell and take over its machinery in order to make more virus particles. Hence, the host cell becomes a virus-manufacturing plant, making viral parts that reassemble into whole viruses and infect other cells. Finally, the host cell dies.

How are viruses spread?                                                                                                                            

Viruses may spread vertically (from mother to child) or horizontally (from person to person). A virus’s ability to spread depends on the makeup of the virus. Some viruses can spread by simple contact, exchanges of saliva, coughing, or sneezing. Some require sexual contact, while others go through the fecal-oral route via contaminated food or water. Still other viruses require an insect like a mosquito to carry the virus from person to person.

Zika

Zika is a virus passed to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The Zika virus is named after the Zika forest in Uganda, where the virus was first discovered in 1947. Before 2015, the virus was found mainly in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the virus was discovered for the first time in Brazil. It has now spread to many states and countries in, Caribbean Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, the virus was confirmed in Puerto Rico in December 2015. The disease has been found in travelers coming to the United States from affected areas. However, the virus has not yet spread from one person to another in the United States through a mosquito. Many experts believe that it is likely that this will happen soon.

The virus rarely causes major complications. in rare cases, Zika has been associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that can cause partial or complete paralysis, most often temporary,  but research hasn’t established a direct relationship between the two, according to the WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas.

Zika has been tied to cases of microcephaly in babies born to infected pregnant women. Microcephaly stunts a baby’s head growth, causing devastating, sometimes-fatal brain damage, and it can result in miscarriage or stillbirth. A cause-and-effect link with the Zika virus hasn’t been definitely established, though.

MICROCEPHALY

 

Although there are many causes of microcephaly in babies, including infections during pregnancy, genetic problems, and exposure to toxic substances during pregnancy, though the link between the two appears to be getting stronger the more researchers learn.

 

Precautionary it is advised pregnant women or women who expect to become pregnant to postpone travel to areas where the Zika virus is active.

In January, the World Health Organization declared birth defects linked to the Zika virus an international public health emergency.That declaration will speed up research into the suspected connection between the virus and cases of microcephaly in babies of infected pregnant women.

How It Spreads

300BA6D500000578-0-The_Zika_virus_is_spread_to_humans_by_infected_mosquitoes_The_mo-a-3_1452527914353Zika is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes acquire the virus when they feed on infected people. They then spread the virus when they bite other people.

The mosquitoes that spread Zika are the same type that spread dengue fever. These mosquitoes usually feed during the day.

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

A pregnant mother can pass it to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It is not spread through breastfeeding. There have also been reports that the virus has spread through blood transfusions and sexual contact, but this has not yet been confirmed. If so, it is very rare.

Symptoms

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, one in five people do get symptoms. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.

Precautionary Measures

There is no vaccine to prevent the disease. Avoid mosquito bites, mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Sleep under a mosquito bed net. Apply insect repellent as directed.

Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age. Adults should Spray insect repellent onto their hands and then apply to a child’s face. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.

If you have Zika, protect others by applying the same measures.

Treating the symptoms

There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine only on doctor’s advice.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, consult your doctor before taking additional medication.
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