What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a concerning health issue, primarily for pregnant women due to its potential to cause severe birth defects like microcephaly and developmental delays. It's also linked to pregnancy complications.

How is Zika Virus Transmitted?

Primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes, which are also responsible for dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya, Zika can also be sexually transmitted. It's found in various bodily fluids, including semen, saliva, and breast milk.

Historical Perspective on Zika

Identified in Ugandan monkeys in 1947 and humans in 1952, Zika has been a global concern since 2007. With cases in over 67 countries, including regions in Africa, Asia, and America, its spread is facilitated by the widespread presence of the Aedes mosquito.

Symptoms of Zika Virus

Typically, symptoms appear 3-12 days post-infection, mirroring other mosquito-borne illnesses like yellow fever. Symptoms are often mild, lasting 2-7 days, and include fever, rash, fatigue, and joint pain. However, only about 25% of infected individuals show symptoms.

Diagnosing Zika

Diagnosis involves laboratory tests of blood, urine, or other bodily fluids. Early detection is crucial, especially for pregnant women.

Managing Zika: No Cure, Only Care

Currently, there's no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika. Management includes symptom relief, rest, and hydration. Pregnant women are advised against NSAIDs like ibuprofen, due to potential complications.

Foetal Monitoring in Zika Infections

Pregnant women with Zika require regular ultrasounds and non-stress tests to monitor fetal health and detect any abnormalities, particularly in head size.

Preventing Zika Virus

Prevention strategies include eliminating mosquito breeding sites, using repellents, wearing protective clothing, and installing mosquito nets. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to Zika-affected regions and consult healthcare providers before planning pregnancy.

Sexual Transmission and Planning Pregnancy

Couples planning pregnancy should use condoms or avoid intercourse if exposed to Zika, waiting for at least eight weeks (or six months with symptoms) post-exposure before trying to conceive.