Zika Virus: What you Need to Know

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With the previously ignored virus now making waves across the Americas, it’s necessary to have a general understanding of what the virus is and how you can protect yourself from it. Zika Virus is known to cause microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome and other symptoms to those who are infected.
Here is what you need to know:

Timeline of Zika Virus
  • 1947: Zika Virus was first identified within a monkey that was being monitored for yellow fever in the Zika Forest of Uganda
  • 1950’s: Determined that humans carried certain antibodies against Zika Virus
    1968: Zika Virus was isolated from humans in Nigeria; subsequent studies revealed evidence of Zika Virus infection in other African countries including Uganda, Egypt, Central African Republic, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Gabon. Traces were also found in Asia, primarily in Malaysia, Philippines, India, Thailand, Vietname and Indonesia.
  • 2007: Zika Virus moved outside of Africa and Asia
  • 2013: Outbreaks in Yap Island and French Polynesia
  • 2015: May, the first cases of Zika Virus was detected in the Americas: Brazil
  • 2016: January, Zika Virus identified in The Caribbean
  • 2016: April 14th, Dr Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, confirmed that the Zika Virus does indeed cause Microcephaly and several other birth defects in babies
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Picture Source: Christian Post

What is Zika Virus?

Zika Virus is a member of the flavivirus family which also includes the likes of yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, dengue virus and the Japanese encephalitis virus. According to the CDC, “Zika virus disease is a mosquito-borne illness. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are a mild fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. Seek medical care if symptoms worsen.”
How is Zika Virus transmitted?
 
Zika Virus is transmitted among humans via various mosquitoes of the Aedes genus.
Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually.
 
Signs and Symptoms of Zika Virus
 
Most individuals who are infected with Zika Virus experience mild or no symptoms at all. Approximately 25% of infected individuals develop symptoms 2-10 days after being infected and such symptoms include rash, fever, join pain, headache and red eyes. Fatalities are rare and fully recoveries are typical.
Serious conditions of Zika Virus have raised huge concerns. Guillain-Barré syndrome is associated with muscle weakness due to damage of the peripheral nervous system. This syndrome was first noted in French Polynesia during an outbreak in 2013. In Brazil, congenital microcephaly has been linked to Zika Virus. It’s speculated that birth defects are a cause of Zika Virus, some reports are trying to link the rise in microcephaly to Zika Virus infections.

Given how serious  Guillain-Barré and microcephaly is, it is being recommended by health officials that pregnant women should either avoid travel to areas that are endemic for Zika virus infection, or to take necessary measures to reduce any possible exposure to mosquitoes.

Natural Repellents to Mosquitos

For those who want to be cautious, and who are being proactive in protecting themselves and their family members from the possible transmission of the Zika Virus, there are a few natural repellents to battle mosquitos.

  1. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  2. Cinnamon Oil
  3. Lavender
  4. Thyme Oil
  5. Catnip
  6. Citronella
  7. Neem Oil
  8. Organic Soy Oil
  9. Garlic
  10. Lotus

For more information on this list, check out this article.

Control of Zika Virus

Since there are currently no antiviral drugs or vaccines against Zika Virus. Mosquito control is the only option for restricting the virus. Taking such measures as to wearing clothing that covers the majority of your body, sleeping under a bed net or making sure common breeding sites, such as standing water in pots and used tires, for mosquitos aren’t present nearby can help eliminate the prevalence of mosquitos.

Wearing mosquito spray is also a huge preventative. Businesses are now offering services  that include sprays of certain insecticides to help decrease and potentially prevent mosquitos from finding their way into your yard. Of course, the people who have such services can’t promise it’ll stop mosquitos all together, but it can certainly help!

In closing, it’s important to be aware of the affected areas of Zika Virus. Avoid travel into areas known to have the virus and always take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Speculations have risen that Zika Virus can  cause birth defects in women who are pregnant, so taking extra precaution is recommended. Zika Virus can also be transmitted sexually.

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Picture: CBS

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