Zika virus is spread to people through female Aedes mosquito bites. It has been related to an epidemic of birth defects, particularly microcephaly that results with a damage in the brain, which stops developing in the womb.
Zika is spreading really fast across the Caribbean and the Americas. Puerto Rico is mostly a concern for the US because the rainy spring season can lead to increase mosquito activities. Cases of Zika virus are expected to rise dramatically in the summer of 2016.
Although this disease is spreading really fast, still many people in America (about 42%) remain misinformed and disinterested about the risks of Zika.
Zika Virus Origins
This virus firstly appeared in Uganda, in 1947 1 . With yeast, health professionals considered Zika as a minor-league condition that until today was limited to a narrow belt of equatorial Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands.
Zika Virus Today
In May 2015, the first alert of Zika virus infection in Brazil was spotted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) 2 . Now, outbreaks are happening in many countries in the world.
According to latest researches, Zika will continue to spread and it will be hard to determine how this virus will spread over time.
Is There a Zika Virus Vaccine?
Currently, there is not existing vaccine to prevent Zika.
Daily Mail has reported that health experts in the UK tested a vaccine and believe it will be ready for the next 3 -4 years 3 .
Mosquitoes responsible for Zika are biting mostly during the daytime. Along with the virus, they also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
How is Zika Virus Spread?
Primarily, Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.
In accordance with the World Health Organization, here are some facts about these mosquitoes that you need to know:
- Generally, lay eggs near and in standing water, in stuff like bowls, buckets, flower pots, vases, and animal dishes.
- They are aggressive biters during the daytime, prefer to bite people.
- These insects live outdoors and indoors near people.
- Mosquitoes get infected when they feed on a human that is already infected with this virus. So, future mosquito’s bites spread the Zika virus to other people.
Could Zika Be Transmitted from Person to Person?
Even though it is a rare case, a mother who is already infected with Zika near the time of her delivery could pass on the virus to the newborn around the time of birth.
It is quite possible that Zika can be passed from mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Experts still investigate this mode of transmission.
So far, there are no reports of children getting this virus through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has great benefits, so experts are encouraging the mothers to breastfeed even in the countries where the virus is found.
However, the latest researches indicate that, apart from mosquitoes, Zika can be transmitted through blood transfusions and through sex.
How long does the virus last?
Zika virus stays in the blood stream for one week. However, experts still don’t know how long this virus can live in the semen.
Is Zika deadly virus?
This virus is usually not deadly. However, people with certain pre-existing health issues can have serious complications.
How can you reduce the risks of Zika?
The only way to reduce the risks of this virus is to avoid mosquito contacts, especially in areas where Zika is present. Further, you can prevent dangerous mosquito bites by:
- wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- using mosquito repellent regularly
- using: foggers, sprays, liquids electric, or door screens to keep mosquitoes away
- using mosquito bed net for sleeping
- staying in areas with air conditioning (and do not open windows)
Local communities can reduce the risk of Zika by removing trash that gathers standing water and eradicating mosquitoes.
Note: If you want to use sunscreen, apply it before applying a mosquito repellent.
Do NOT use foggers or similar products directly on your skin.
Prevention for babies and children
- Don’t use mosquito repellent on babies younger than two months of age.
- Dress your children in clothing that covers legs and arms.
- Cover stroller, crib, or baby carrier with mosquito net.
- Don’t apply mosquito repellent onto a child’s eyes, mouth, hands and irritated skin.
- For adults: You should spray mosquito repellent onto your hands and after that apply to your child’s face.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is suggesting that couples who have been exposed to this virus should wait up to 6 months before trying to conceive 4 .
A man that is diagnosed with this virus, or have symptoms, should not have sex (even with a condom) for at least 6 months. This pretty long time for men is required in order to minimize the risks after the latest discoveries that Zika can be detected in semen for no less than 2 months.
Prevention is truly important to reduce the spread of Zika virus in the USA, and all over the world.
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