The Zika virus is generally spread by mosquitoes. In most cases, it is a mild infection and not relatively harmful. Nevertheless, it might be serious for pregnant women due to the evidence of birth defects, specifically microcephaly or abnormally small heads.
Among pregnant women, it is recommended to:
- Suspend travel to areas at high-risk for Zika virus transmission
- Delay travel to areas with moderate risk for the disease until after pregnancy
The high-risk areas are those with reported outbreaks of the Zika virus or where there has been an increase in the local cases via mosquito bites.
If an individual travel to an affected area, the risk can be lowered by applying an insect repellant and wearing loose clothing that covers the legs and arms.
In most cases, the symptoms are not present. If the symptoms arise, they are relatively mild and only last for 2-7 days.
The commonly reported symptoms include:
- Itchiness all over the body
- Low back pain
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Pain behind the eyes
How do I become infected?
Generally, most cases of the Zika virus disease spreads via infected mosquitoes that bite humans. The difference with mosquitoes that spread malaria is that the infected mosquitoes are highly active during the day, particularly during mid-morning and late-afternoon to dusk.
Management of the Zika virus infection
Always bear in mind that there is no specific treatment for the Zika virus. Increasing the intake of fluids and using paracetamol can help alleviate the symptoms.
In case the individual feels sick after travelling to a country with malaria as well as at high or moderate risk for Zika virus transmission, it is vital to seek urgent advice to rule out a diagnosis of malaria. If the individual is still sick and malaria is not the cause, it is vital to seek medical care.