The Zika Virus: What It Is, Where It Is, and Protective Steps to Take - What Studies | Knowledge


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The Zika Virus: What It Is, Where It Is, and Protective Steps to Take

Note: The situation regarding the Zika epidemic is constantly evolving, please note the date of the last update. Last updated: February 5, 2016.


Zika is an arbovirus transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes (tiger mosquito).

Origins of Zika:

It was in 1947 that the Zika virus was identified for the first time in Uganda in rhesus monkeys. Its name comes from the forest of Zika that is found in this country of East Africa. 
It was not until 1952 that he was identified in humans. 

A first outbreak of the disease has been observed in Micronesia, Yap Islands (2007), French Polynesia (2013) and Brazil (2015). Since the beginning of 2016, the epidemic has been gaining momentum, affecting in particular many Latin American countries (see risk zone section) to the point where the WHO has described the situation as a "health emergency". global public ".

Transmission of Zika:

The Zika virus is transmitted to humans mainly through the bites of certain infected mosquitoes such as the Aedes tiger mosquito. Note that these mosquito species are also responsible for the transmission of chikungunya virus, yellow fever and dengue fever.

Another mode of transmission is that of the pregnant woman to her baby through the placenta or during childbirth. On February 2, 2016 a case of sexually transmitted Zika virus was announced in Texas.

The country at risk:

In recent months, Zika has spread to several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Among the countries where cases have been listed are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Virgin Islands, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, St. Martin, Samoa, Suriname, Venezuela. For Canada, the probability of transmission is very low because mosquitoes that transmit the virus are not present in the country because of the climate.

The symptoms of Zika:

At present, the incubation time of the virus (a period from exposure to the manifestation of symptoms) remains undetermined. The symptoms associated with a Zika virus infection, although lighter, are very similar to those of dengue and chikungunya: fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, weakness, and headache.

 In most cases, the symptoms remain mild and disappear within 2 to 7 days. Note that Zika is what is called an asymptomatic disease, which means that one can be a carrier of the virus, but not develop any symptoms. This is the case for about 80% of people infected with Zika.

Diagnosis of Zika:

The method for diagnosing Zika virus is PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and isolation from blood samples. Physicians will also consider dates of travel and places visited.

Risks of Zika complications:

Since the spread of the Zika epidemic, health officials have noticed an explosion in the number of microcephalic cases, a congenital malformation that gives birth to babies with abnormally small heads and brains. However, the link between Zika and cases of microcephaly is not yet scientifically proven, but there is strong suspicion. 

For this reason, some authorities have advised women in at-risk countries not to become pregnant and women in other countries who are not-at-risk countries to avoid becoming pregnant. In addition to the suspicion of microcephaly, the Zika virus could be associated with the Guillain-Barré neurological syndrome (GBS), but again, there is no scientific certainty.

Prevention of Zika:

Prevention is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. The use of repellents is desired, the wearing of clothing covering as much as possible the body and preferably also light color. 

It is also advisable to use insect screens, mosquito nets, and to close the windows at night. It is also important to cover water containers such as buckets, flowerpots or tires because it is in these kinds of places that mosquitoes reproduce.

Treatment of Zika:

There is currently no vaccine against the Zika virus. According to the WHO, "The Zika virus disease is generally relatively benign and does not require any specific treatment.
Sufferers should rest a lot, drink enough, and take common medications for pain and fever. If symptoms worsen, they should consult a doctor.

Did you know that…
The mosquito-tiger, transmitter of Zika, is a diurnal insect, it stings mainly during the day.

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