Apr 11, 2016
All the Zika details you need, including the impact it will have on U.S. soil.
People everywhere are scrambling to develop a better understanding of Zika virus, which began in Brazil in 2013 and has now spread to several countries across the globe. Scientists, doctors, parents, and virtually everyone in between are searching for answers to their questions regarding the virus, and more importantly, the threat that comes with it.
Image credit to: STAT
While there is still plenty we need to discover, there’s also much that we do already know. If you’re looking for a specific, in-depth feature on the chemical structure of the virus, this isn’t the article for you. This article is intended to provide readers with simple, direct answers to the most frequent questions being asked about Zika virus.
How is Zika virus transmitted?
In a vast majority of the cases, the virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact or blood transfusions, however both are much more rare than via mosquito bites.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms include a mild fever, skin rash, muscle or joint pain, conjunctivitis, and fatigue. Roughly 20% of people with the virus experience any symptoms at all, and for those that do, the symptoms are typically fairly mild and last between 2-7 days.
Is there a vaccine?
While several studies are currently underway, at this point there is no vaccine or specific drug for Zika virus. The recommended treatment includes plenty of water and rest, in addition to common over-the-counter pain and fever medications.
Is the U.S. at risk ofa Zika outbreak?
While experts do expect Zika outbreaks in certain U.S. cities, they also say there is no reason to panic. There are areas stateside, mostly in the south, where Aedes mosquitos are found, and scientists do fully expect more cases of Zika to appear on U.S. soil. However, the U.S. is not as exposed to these mosquitos to the degree that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (where larger Zika outbreaks are occurring) are, which leads experts to believe outbreaks will occur on a much smaller, more local scale.
Why is Zika especially dangerous to pregnant women?
There have been several cases in which Zika is linked to causing microcephaly in newborn babies born to infected pregnant women. While there is still a great deal of research going into the connection between Zika and microcephaly, and nothing has been scientifically proven to this point, pregnant women are advised to use extreme caution and to not travel to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks.
What protective measure can be taken?
The most effective form of prevention is to take proper measures to protect yourself against mosquito bites. Here are a few tips on how to do so:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover up skin
- Use insect repellant
- Try to avoid standing water (lakes, pools, etc.)
- Avoid accumulating garbage, and keep all garbage containers closed
- Take advantage of screens and nets that can help keep mosquitos out