Zika Virus belongs to a family of virus called Flaviviridae and its genus is Flavirirus. It spreads by a particular species of mosquitoes known as ‘Aedes’. Aedes mosquitoes are highly active in day time.
Zika Virus is very much similar to West Nile viruses, yellow fever, dengue, and Japanese encephalitis.
What is Zika Virus
There is a family of viruses which is known as Flaviviridae under which falls a genus called Flavivirus. Genus Flavivirus contains many viruses like dengue, tick borne encephalitis, yellow fever and Nile virus including few others.
This same genus also includes a virus called Zika. Similar to many viruses, Zika Virus is also an infectious agent which enters the body and replicates itself inside the living cells of various organisms.
This Virus not only infects human beings but is highly capable of infecting all forms of life including microorganisms, animals and even plants to some extent.
As mentioned above, Zika Virus belongs to Flaviviridae family of viruses for which human beings and other mammals are the common natural hosts.
Most among these viruses are generally spread by ticks or mosquitoes through their transmission from an infected person to a healthy individual.
Origin of Zika Virus
The story behind the origin of Zika Virus is quite interesting. The name of Zika Virus has been derived from the name of a forest in Uganda which is popularly known as Zika Forest.
This virus came into existence for the first time in the year 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey which was placed in Uganda’s Zika Forest, somewhere near Lake Victoria. The research was conducted by the scientists of Yellow Fever Research Institute.
In 1948 when a monkey at the same site developed fever, Scientists took out the sample from its serum and found a filterable transmissible agent inside it. This agent got its name as Zika due to Zika Forest.
By the arrival of 1950, Zika Virus had already spread its wings from Africa to Asia throughout a fine equatorial belt.
Zika Virus- Modes of transmission
There are primarily four modes of transmission of Zika Virus:
- Mosquito bites: This is the primary mode of transmission. Especially female Aedes Aegypti mosquito is responsible for carrying Zika Virus from an infected to person to a healthy one.This particular species of mosquitoes are active generally during the daytime. Other than Aegypti, Zika has been also found in few other species of genus Aedes. But then also, the extent of these vectors is still not known.
- Sexual intercourse: It can get transmitted from a sexual partner to another from a man or a woman.The cases of sexual transmission have been documented in countries like Chile, Italy, France, Argentina, USA and New Zealand during the outbreak of Zika Virus in the year 2015.During the various studies it has been found that Zika exists in the semen of an infected man and are thus sexually transmitted.But studies are being conducted to find whether women can also transmit this disease to her sexual partner during a sexual intercourse.
- From a pregnant woman to its child: If a woman gets infected by Zika during pregnancy then there are chances of its transmission to her fetus during her pregnancy or at the time of delivery.So pregnant women should take enough care of herself to protect her from getting infected by this virus otherwise it risks the life of her baby too.
- Through Blood Transfusion:If the blood of an infected person is transfused to an healthy person then in that case the healthy person is also caught by this dangerous virus.Till now there have been many cases of Zika transmission by blood transfusion reported throughout the globe.Hence screening of blood donors is highly essential before the blood is being taken from them.
How Zika Virus develops itself and spread inside the Body
The development of Zika Virus takes place inside the midgut epithelial cells of a mosquito and further reaches its salivary gland cells.
After five to ten days, the presence of Zika Virus can be easily observed inside the saliva of the mosquito. When this mosquito bites a healthy person, this Virus enters into the epidermal keratinocytes, skin fibroblasts and Langerhans cells.
It continues to grow and moves upto the lymph nodes and thus enters the blood stream. Generally, the viruses of this genus multiply themselves inside the cytoplasm but Zika infects the nuclei of the cell too during its replication.
When a person falls sick after getting infected by Zika Virus, this illness is known as Zika Fever or Zika Virus disease.
In most of the cases of Zika Fever, people generally don’t come to know till the time it is diagnosed clinically. The reason behind it is the absence or the lack of symptoms in most of the cases.
Zika Virus Symptoms
As mentioned above, the symptoms are not present in most of the cases of Zika Fever. But, eve
n if they arepresent, they are not commonly distinguishable.
The symptoms which can be seen in a person infected by Zika Virus are very similar to that of dengue fever. These symptoms may include:
- Redness in eyes
- Pain in joints
- Low-grade Fever
- pain in joints with possible swelling
- Small red rashes on the body
- Retro-ocular headaches
Zika Virus Diagnosis
- Zika can be diagnosed by testing the blood sample
- By carrying out urine testing.
- Its presence can also be checked by saliva testing to check whether Zika RNA is present or not when a person is suffering from Zika Virus disease.
Prevention of Zika Virus
- It is a well-known fact that prevention is always better than cure. Hence we should find out the ways and means for the prevention of Zika Virus disease.
- In case of Zika, there is no effective vaccine invented till now, hence prevention by other means is the only solution to protect yourself from this dangerous virus.
- Zika can be prevented by protecting yourself from mosquito and tick bites. Use proper mosquito repellents in your home or mosquito nets to prevent mosquito bites.
- Always try to cover maximum part of your body with clothes to avoid the risk of mosquito bites.
Vaccine for Zika Virus
Vaccination is available against few viruses of the same family from which Zika belongs to.
For example, Japanese encephalitis vaccine and tick-borne encephalitis vaccine for yellow fever is available since 1930s and vaccine for dengue fever is present since the mid of second decade of 21st century.
Vaccination could have been a great option for the prevention of Zika Virus too, but till now it has not been possible for the scientists to develop an effective one for the same.
Zika Virus – WHO and Other Researches
As per the suggestions of experts from WHO, the primary focus should be there on the development of such vaccines which are inactivated and non-live in nature so that they can be used in case of pregnant women safely.
As per the present progress reports of January 2016 on this subject; NIH Vaccine Research Centre of United States has started working on the development of Zika Virus Vaccine.
Another research is under progress in India by Bharat Biotech International.
Other than these two mentioned above, there are around 18 medical research companies carrying out there experiments against Zika .
There are predictions that in may take two more years to develop and effective vaccine for Zika Virus but then also ten to twelve years would be required to finally get it approved by regulators and make it available for public use throughout the world.
Zika Virus Treatment
As we have already mentioned that till now it has neither been possible for scientists to develop any vaccine for the prevention neither a permanent treatment of Zika Virus disease.
Although you cannot treat this diesease but the symptoms can be treated by:
- Taking enough bed rest
- By drinking plenty of water and other fluids to avoid dehydration
- Analgesics and antipyretics can be taken to reduce the fever and join pains after a prescription from your doctor.
- You must not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- In case if you are going to take any other medicine for any symptoms of Zika Virus, You are recommended to take the proper medical advice.
Zika Virus Outbreak
Since the year 2007, Zika Virus started spreading eastwards. In this year, It happened for the first time that this virus was detected at some other part of the world other than Asia and Africa.
There is a chain of islands called Yap Islands in the Pacific Ocean which hardly acquires an area of 100.22 km with a population of around 6300 as per the census in 2003 (Present population is approximately 11,700).
In the year 2007, there was an outbreak of Zika Virus throughout the Yap islands which comes under Federal States of Micronesia.
In the month of October, 2013 another outbreak of Zika Virus was seen in another group of islands called Polynesia. Polynesia is a part of France.
But, before this Zika Virus outbreaks across the entire region of Ocenia where 8723 cases were reported positive.
Zika Virus Map
The area depicted in orange shade in this world map represents those places where confirmed cases of Zika has been found.
Zika Virus Epidemic 2015-2016
Till the first quarter of 2015, Zika Virus outbreak of Ocenia used to be considered as the major outbreak of
this virus other than the case of Yap Island.
In April 2015, everybody was in the state of shock when this Virus outbreak started in America.
This started from Brazil in early 2015 and then spread towards North and South America.
Zika also took away few other islands in the Pacific Ocean into its flow.
By the mid of 2016, Zika Virus has widespread itself in America and Pacific.
Zika Fever has become an epidemic and is ongoing in in the states of America and Pacific islands.
In Jan, 2016, WHO has already declared that it is likely to affect most of the Americans.
In Feb, 2016 made another declaration and declared Zika Virus outbreak (Zika Fever) as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
The reason was the epidemic Zika fever and the evidences which had shown to cause neurological problems and birth defects in infants.
How to Protect you and your family from Zika Virus
- Ensure that there is no stagnant water near your residence area.
- There should be no dump store on your roof for the collection of rain water in things like flower pots, old tyres, rock pools, chocked drainage system and all.
- If existing then, timely treatment of such places should be done with effective larvicides.
- Avoid mosquitos to enter your house by using door screens and air conditioners.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent creams and other permissible anti mosquito household sprays.
- If Zika Outbreaks then adult mosquitos should be eliminated on priority through aerial spraying or insecticides.
- A person suffering from Zika Virus disease should protect himself from mosquito bites to prevent it from spreading to other family members in good health.
- Any individual suffering from Zika fever or returning from some Zika infected area, he/she should remain isolated for two to three weeks and prevent himself/herself from mosquito bites for the prevention of this disease.
- As it can be transmitted sexually too, thus, you are recommended to practice safe sex by using condoms during pregnancy for the better health of the foetus.
- Always use new syringes during blood transfusion and injecting a drug in human body.
- Don’t take out the blood from a donor without conducting all blood tests required including the test for the presence of Zika Virus.
Zika Virus CDC
CDC stands for Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC is the prominent National public health institute of USA. It is actually a federal agency which works under the Department of Health and Human Services with its headquarter located in Georgia.
CDC has taken many measures to protect people from Zika Virus in all manners and is continuously progressing with its all efforts. Below are the focus areas and the achievements by CDS in this field.
- Not only in United States but all around the globe; CDC is tracking the spread of Zika Virus along with the other viruse transmitted by mosquitoes.
- CDC is conducting training of the Zika Virus detectives for finding and reporting about the cases of this virus.
- CDC is also teaching the other healthcare providers about the proper methods of identification of Zika .
- Studies and researches are under progress by CDC to find out the links between Zika Virus, birth defects and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
- CDC is conducting diagnostic test of the samples for other labs for the confirmation of presence of Zika.
- CDC is conducting awareness programmes for public thus imparting knowledge about Zika Virus.
- Advices to those travellers who travel to the areas affected with Zika Virus are being given by CDS.
- An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has also been setup by CDC to work in collaboration with local, national, private and international partners to study in detail the all aspects of Zika Virus and to share all available information with each other.
You Must Watch : Zika Virus Video
Is Zika a deadly disease?
No, Zika fever or Zika Virus disease is not a deadly disease. Most commonly, people don’t even report to hospital while suffering from Zika due to unavailability of symptoms.
Hardy 20% people infected by Zika reports with symptoms like pain in joints, fever, redness in eyes etc and rarely someone dies due to this disease.
Hence, you can assume that Zika is not a deadly disease. But the seriousness about Zika is due to other Health risks it possesses.
Is Zika Virus contagious?
No, absolutely not. The Zika Virus have particular modes of transmission as mentioned above in this article.Zika is not an airborne disease and hence it doesn’t spread by normal physical contact like touching. Hence, there is no harm in standing near a person infected by Zika Virus.
What should I do If I suffer from Zika Fever?
If you are caught by Zika Fever then you need not to worry too much. Firstly, you must confirm positively the presence of Zika Virus in your in body by going through a proper diagnosis as mentioned above.After the confirmation, you should follow the guidelines as mentioned in para above, named ‘Zika Virus Treatment’.
Why Zika Virus is considered so dangerous? Health Effects and Risks:
Although Zika Virus is not a deadly disease but then also it is being considered as a very dangerous disease due to other effects on health and risks attached to it.The serious health risks due to Zika Virus are listed below:
- Zika Virus can cause severe birth defects in foetus during the time of Pregnancy and may cause other pregnancy related problems in woman.
- Microcephaly is another birth defect which can be caused by Zika during pregnancy.
- Many countries suffering due to Zika Virus outbreak has recently reported in the increase of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). GBS is a severe and uncommon illness related to nervous system.
- GBS is such a disease in which the immune system of a person starts damaging its own nerve cells and thus causing serious damage to nervous system resulting in muscle weakness and even paralysis in many cases.
- Many studies suggest that GBS is associated with Zika Virus. Still researches are going on to find out the link between Zika Virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. But it has also been found that there is a very small portion of Zika Virus patients which suffers with GBS.
Can Zika Virus Kill you?
It has already been discussed that only about 20 out of 100 people will possess the symptoms of Zika Virus disease and these symptoms are not so severe to cause a fear of death.Hence, you need not to worry; the probability of death due to Zika Virus is almost negligible. Zika probably won’t be killing you.
Zika Virus and Your Voice
Healthlove.in always cares for your healthy life. Be in touch any other information about Zika Virus and all updates on it. We suggest you to prevent yourself from this dangerous disease but in-case, the symptoms occurs then please do visit your health adviser or the specialist.
Your views, queries, experience, knowledge and comments are most welcome. Please leave your feedback in the comment section below if you find this information helpful and useful for you.
Veer is not only a blogger, he is a software engineer, a good poet, well known cook, a dietitian, a sportsman, a good swimmer, a forex trader, a reader and a good friend. He appreciate music like anything and loves to travel around the world. His next destination is Mauritius where he wants to go for his honeymoon with his loving better half.
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