All you need to know about Zika

Zika has been the cause of mass panic since November 2015 since the Brazilian officials tentatively linked this illness to an increased incidence of a birth defect called microcephaly. This is a mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was subsequently identified in humans in 1952. Outbreaks have been since recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

The diagnosis can only be confirmed by lab testing for the presence of Zika virus RNA in the blood or urine or saliva.

Essential Facts

  • This is transmitted via Aedes mosquitoes 
  • Symptoms include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • No specific antidote or vaccine is available currently.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

How does it spread?

  • Most cases of Zika virus are contracted after the patient is bitten by a mosquito that previously fed on someone else who has Zika virus.
  • The virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
  • Research also suggests that Zika virus can also be transmitted sexually in some cases.

Why is this virus scarier for pregnant women?

Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who were affected during pregnancy. Since all the factors linking this virus and birth defects is still under study, WHO (World Health Organization) recommends special caution.

WHO also recommends that pregnant ladies should refrain from travelling to Zika affected areas during the entire pregnancy. However, if the travel is imperative, then they should talk to their healthcare provider before confirming the plans. It is especially important for the person to see a doctor if she develops a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during her trip or within 2 weeks after the travel.


  • People affected with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines.
  • If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice.
  • There is currently no vaccine available

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