A new virus that has already gained worldwide dimensions is called Zika virus. It’s transmitted to humans through mosquito bites and its symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis or eye infection. Normally, the symptoms, which aren’t life-threatening, last for 7 days at most, with rare exceptions when patients have to be hospitalized.
A warning was issued by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in May 2015 against the first confirmed Zika virus outbreak in Brazil. The most severe results of the infections included Guillain-Barre syndrome, birth defects in newly-borns and pre-term deliveries.
These are 5 crucial things you need to know about this virus:
1. Zika virus cannot be prevented by vaccination or medications as there are none that fight the virus.
2. Aedes mosquitoes transmit the virus by biting a person with an active infection then biting others. The infected people then become carriers of the virus.
3. According to the OCD, Zika virus is now found in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
4. As there’s no known medication or vaccine against the virus, the best protection is to avoid travelling to areas where the virus has already spread. Even if you have to travel to these places, it’s mandatory to strictly follow mosquito protection measures –use an EPA-approved repellent on top of your sunscreen, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, which are thick enough to prevent a mosquito bite, and sleep in air-conditioned, screened rooms.
5. Last, but not least, conventional mosquito control techniques such as spraying pesticides and disposing of standing water receptacles where mosquitoes breed are implemented by health authorities. Also local homeowners, hotel owners and visitors to countries with Zika outbreaks are urged to join in these preventative measures by also eliminating any standing water they see, including that in outdoor buckets and flowerpots.
However, a real threat still exists despite all measures taken, simply because it’s impossible to eliminate all mosquito breeding areas. Plus, Aedes aegypti, the type of mosquitoes that transmit the virus, have really approached residential areas and “can replicate in flower vases and other tiny sources of water,” said microbiologist Brian Foy, which makes efforts to completely eradicate these mosquitoes virtually impossible.