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Zika virus

The Zika is a virus that is transmitted through mosquito bites. It occurs especially in Southeast Asia, certain areas of the Caribbean, and in Central and South America. It is important to note that the vast majority of people who are infected with this virus do not get sick; however, it is very dangerous in the case of pregnant women , who can transmit the virus to the fetus.

And is that Zika can cause microcephaly in babies whose mothers have been infected with this virus during the gestation period. It is a disorder characterized in that the size of the head is much smaller than usual. Microcephaloa can be present in isolation, that is, without other serious birth defects; or appear together with other more or less serious physical and mental defects.

The most common symptoms are: skin rash, joint pain, fever, and conjunctivitis . In general, the signs of the Zika virus are mild and begin seven days after the mosquito bite.

How is it transmitted?

The first historical record of the Zika virus dates from 1947 in Uganda, Africa; a group of researchers detected it in a population of macaques. Regarding humans, it was first discovered in Uganda and Tanzania in 1952. Since then, there have been numerous outbreaks of Zika, especially in certain tropical areas of the African continent.

It was in 2007 when the first outbreak of Zika was registered outside the African continent, specifically in Micronesia. Since then there have been more outbreaks; one of the best known worldwide was the one that took place in mid-2015 in Brazil.

Transmission of the virus occurs through the bite of mosquitoes of the genus Aedes , both to monkeys and to humans. Thus, when the mosquito that carries the virus bites a certain person, it first attacks the cells and later spreads to the lymph nodes and the blood.

Although transmission through mosquito bites is the most common, others are also contemplated.

  • Transplacental perinatal: is known as the transmission that occurs during childbirth when the mother is infected and her blood has the presence of the Zika virus.
  • Blood transfusion: during the Zika outbreak that took place in French Polynesia in late 2013 and early 2014, this virus was found in the blood of 3% of donors tested.
  • Sexual transmission: there have been several cases of sexual transmission of the Zika virus; in one patient, the virus was isolated from semen for up to two weeks after recovering from the symptoms of the disease.

Note that these last three modes of transmission of the Zika virus are very strange. The vast majority of patients acquire it, as we have indicated, through the bite of a mosquito that carries the virus.

Risk factor’s

There are certain factors that increase the risk of contracting this disease to some extent.

On the one hand, traveling to areas where outbreaks have been registered, such as some countries in America, the islands near West Africa and several islands in the Pacific.

And, on the other hand, having unprotected sex. Experts recommend abstinence from sexual activity during pregnancy or the use of a condom if the man has traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission.

Zika symptoms

In general, people infected by the Zika virus, the vast majority have mild symptoms, which include: fever, rashes in different areas of the body, severe headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis and pain in the muscles that is intensified with any type of physical activity.

The main symptoms that occur in patients infected with the Zika virus is fever, which is not very high; it is usually kept below 38.5ºC.

Symptoms are generally mild in nature and last approximately seven to ten days. The vast majority of people infected with this virus do not feel that they are sick enough to seek medical assistance. That is why Zika sometimes goes completely unnoticed since many people do not realize that they are really infected.

Diagnosis and treatment

As we have reflected, in a high percentage of cases the Zika virus is asymptomatic , so it is never diagnosed. In those cases in which the disease does give rise to a series of signs, they are often confused with those of other diseases such as dengue, which is also transmitted through mosquito bites.

You may also be interested in:   Lassa Fever

At the slightest suspicion of this virus, it is advisable to seek medical assistance. The doctor first of all takes a clinical history of the patient, depending on the symptoms that he presents, as well as his state of health, especially assessing whether he suffers from other chronic disorders or not; in addition, it takes into account whether the patient has recently traveled to endemic areas.

To diagnose this virus, the genetic material is detected by PCR . A diagnostic test that must be performed while the virus is present in the blood, that is, between three and five days after the onset of symptoms. If the signs have already subsided, the presence of the genetic material of the virus in question can be determined through a saliva or urine analysis .

Another method to detect this disease is by analyzing the presence of antibodies against the Zika virus in a blood test; it can be established up to a week after the onset of symptoms. However, these antibodies can give a false positive if the patient has suffered from another infection such as dengue for example.

It is important to note that the diagnosis of this virus is not particularly relevant to determine the treatment of the patient since the results are not obtained until after two weeks . Therefore, the diagnosis has, in general, an epidemiological interest to describe the geographical distribution of the disease.

To date, there is no specific treatment to deal with Zika virus infection. The patient must rest and eat plenty of fluids and foods rich in water to avoid dehydration due to fever. Sometimes, depending on the degree of muscle and joint pain present, the doctor may prescribe paracetamol .

How to prevent the Zika virus?

There is no vaccine to prevent infection with this virus . Therefore, the best way to avoid the disease when traveling to endemic areas is to avoid mosquito bites. A gesture that, in addition to Zika, can help prevent other diseases that are transmitted through the bite of these insects, such as malaria or dengue.

  • The use of mosquito repellent , which must be used continuously, is an essential requirement when traveling to triplex zones . During the day, sunscreen is applied first, followed by repellent.
  • There are some mosquitoes that can even bite through clothing, so it is recommended to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially when doing outdoor activities.
  • Avoid as far as possible places where water accumulates, such as flowerpots or the like, as they attract mosquitoes.
  • Of course, the use of a mosquito net is highly recommended , both on doors and windows and on the bed.

As we have explained, the most frequent form of transmission of the Zika virus is through the bite of a mosquito. However, although it is not very common, it can also be given sexually. Thus, it is advisable to use condoms for a month if you have traveled to an endemic area if there have been no symptoms; if there have been signs of the disease, the period extends to six months.

Complications

Zika virus generally only causes complications when it occurs in pregnant women, especially late in the gestation period. Cases of spontaneous abortions and microcephaly have been recorded .

The Zika virus can also cause what is known as congenital Zika syndrome, which includes a number of birth defects: severe microcephaly, brain damage, eye damage, joint problems that limit movement and movement. reduced body.

Conclution

Zika is a relatively new infection, of which numerous studies continue to be carried out. Although it is not known for sure what the consequences are that it can have in patients, when they are in good health, the virus does not leave any type of sequelae.

In Spain there is a potential risk factor for the transmission of the virus due, on the one hand, to the high level of immigration; and, on the other hand, the increasing number of trips to tropical areas by nationals. It is therefore possible, although unlikely, for outbreaks of this disease to occur.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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