What is the latest information on the Zika virus outbreak?
The Zika virus has spread rapidly throughout South America and Central America since being discovered in 1947. In 2015, Brazil was hit particularly hard by the virus, with over 3 million confirmed cases. This year, the virus has reached almost every country in the Americas.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that causes mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Most people who contract the virus don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, pregnant women should take extra precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious birth defects.
The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda’s Zika forest. In 1952, the virus was isolated in rhesus monkeys in the Zika forest. Since then, the virus has been identified in humans, mosquitoes, and primates. The virus is spread primarily by mosquitos, specifically Aedes species. There have been no reported cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus. However, there have been reports of sexual transmission.
Symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain, headache, malaise, and fatigue. Most people who contract the virus do not show any symptoms at all. If symptoms occur, they usually appear 2-14 days after exposure.
There is currently no treatment for the Zika virus. Prevention includes avoiding mosquito bites and using insect repellent.
Mosquitoes are vectors for many viruses, including West Nile virus, Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, Yellow Fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, and others. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading these viruses to humans.
Insect repellents work by disrupting the nervous system of insects. They may cause skin irritation if applied directly to the skin. Repellents should never be applied to children under two years old.
Pregnant women should avoid traveling to countries where Zika is present. Women who become pregnant while infected with the virus should consult their doctors about possible risks to the fetus.
Travelers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, use bed nets, and apply sunscreen.
Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes
Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are known to carry the Zika virus. These mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and can live up to two weeks without feeding. They have been known to bite humans and spread viruses.
Microcephaly is a birth defect where infants are born with small heads. It is caused by damage to brain cells due to infection by the Zika virus.
Dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites. Symptoms include high fever, headache, joint pain, muscle ache, rash, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever.
Prevention includes avoiding mosquito bites. If bitten, apply insect repellent containing DEET. Wear long sleeves and pants while outside. Use screens on windows and doors. Clean and disinfect any standing water.
Treatment involves rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications. Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.
There is currently no vaccine for Zika virus. However, researchers are working on developing one.
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