Zika virus infection is currently raving Brazil, South America. It started in October 2015 when the country recorded 147 births of babies with microcephaly (small head), but this number has now increased to more than 3000. As of today, over 1.5 million Brazilians are infected by the virus.
The virus is said to have been isolated first in Africa in 1949 but reached Brazil in May 2015 and the infection became an outbreak in October 2015. The infection can exist anywhere you have Dengue fever or Yellow fever as the same mosquito transmits the three viruses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Zika virus infection can spread to the whole world if care is not taken. The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed fear that the Rio carnival currently on in Rio De Janeiro may aid world-wide spread of Zika virus. The carnival attracts visitors from all over the world and so far about 1.5 million Brazilians have been affected by the virus in the current outbreak.
The possibility of carnival visitors being bitten by infected mosquitoes is therefore quite high.
The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has advised US pregnant women against travelling to about 24 countries and territories that have been affected so far by Zika virus. Apart from Cape Verde, the other countries are in North America, Central America and South America. Only Canada and Chile are exempted from the countries in the Americas because the climate there is too cold for the mosquito.
The countries affected are: Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Samoa, Haiti, Cape Verde, USA, El-Salvador, Paraguay, French Guiana, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Venezuela, US Virgin Islands, Barbados, Panama, Ecuador, Honduras, Saint Martin, Guatemala, Guadeloupe and Suriname.
Meanwhile one case of the infection has been confirmed in the State of Massachusetts, USA, 3 in New York City and one in Dallas, Texas, also in the United States of America.
Colombia (where over 2000 pregnant are affected) and El-Salvador have asked their women to postpone pregnancy for about two years.
The illness has no cure and no vaccine against it.
Nigeria’s Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has advised Nigerian health workers and Nigerians who recently returned from Latin American countries to be on the lookout for any signs of Zika virus infection and report such. He also advised the immigration officials to thoroughly interview inbound passengers to confirm if they travelled to any of the affected countries recently.
The virus is transmitted by the Aedes Egypti mosquito which breeds in stagnant waters in warm climates, the extant conditions in several countries in the world.
Low and middle income countries in Africa and South east Asia are at high risk of Zika virus, so says the World Health Organization. WHO therefore intends to set surveillance centres in these areas to monitor the disease, at the same time, efforts are on to develop a vaccine.
Truhealth advises travellers to avoid parts of the countries affected.
1.What causes Zika virus infection?
Zika virus infection is caused by Zika virus, it belongs to the Flavirus group; the same group to which the Dengue and Yellow viruses belong. The infection can exist anywhere you have Dengue fever or Yellow fever as the same mosquito transmits the three viruses.
2.How does Zika virus spread?
Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which carries the virus from an infected person when it bites him and then gives it to next person it bites.
The Aedes Egypti mosquito breeds in stagnant waters in warm climates, both conditions are in Africa and the Southeast Asia and several countries in the Americas.
In these places you have open stagnant drainages, various containers of rain water, indoor water containers (covered or open), un-cleared refuse which can hold water; thus the mosquito is present in Africa, South Asia, Southern Europe, Southern States of the United States of America, Central America , the Caribbean, South America excluding Chile because of the temperate climate.
Brazilian health authorities have confirmed a case of transmission of Zika through transfusion of blood from a donor who had been infected with the mosquito-borne virus. They have also reported the presence of the active viruses in saliva and urine
A case of sexual transmission has been reported in Texas, USA.
3.When do you suspect you may have Zika virus infection?
The symptoms of Zika virus infection manifest about 3-12 days after a bite by the Aedes Egypti mosquito which has the virus.
The symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain and redness of the eyes but in most cases there is no symptom.
If these symptoms which are similar to malaria infection persist, please see your doctor as soon as possible.
4.What can put you at risk?
Pregnant women and those planning pregnancy are most at risk as the virus infection could result in miscarriage or delivery of a child with microcephaly; a condition that can lead to underdevelopment and even death.
5.Possible complications of Zika virus infection.
The infection of Zika virus is mild or asymptomatic in most cases, However, in pregnant women, the infection is associated with congenital malformation; babies so affected have small heads and brains which can lead to neurological problems
6.Prevention of Zika virus infection
Prevention is by fumigation of mosquito breeding sites, preventing mosquito bites through use of insecticide treated nets, netted windows, and use of long clothes in the evenings.
Some firms (in Brazil and France) have launched projects for developing vaccine against the virus.
An Indian pharmaceutical firm may have developed the World’s first vaccine against mosquito-borne Zika virus. According to Dr. Krishna Ella, Head of Biotech International Ltd, the company based in Southern Indian State of Andhra Pradash’s capital, Hyderabad, the company has sought Indian Government’s help to carry out human and animal trials for the two candidate vaccines; they were developed by its scientists, using a live ZIKA virus.