Zika Virus: Symptoms And Causes

Manglien Gangte, Team VOH

08 Feb,2018


Zika Virus: Symptoms And Causes

 

Zika has been among the phenomenon of the past year after its outbreak in Brazil and its confirmed cases in America. Recently, this dreadful virus is back in the news with three confirmed cases in the state of Gujarat, India.

The first two cases were in the months of January and November in 2016. The third case was a pregnant woman suffering from the virus in January this year (2017).

This Zika infection is the cause of the Zika virus that is spread by the Aedes mosquito, which also spreads Dengue and Chikungunya. There are also cases of the Zika infection that are spread through sexual contact.

The infection itself is mild with only 20% of the victims presenting the symptoms.

Symptoms:

  1. Fever
  2. Joint pain
  3. Skin rash
  4. Headaches and malaise

Symptoms are usually mild and last for two to seven days.

The biggest concern with Zika is its association with Microcephaly: a rare neurodevelopmental condition that causes an abnormally small skull with an underdeveloped brain. Moreover, pregnant women who got infected with Zika in the first trimester are usually found to have an increased incidence of children born with Microcephaly.

Microcephaly can lead to delays in speech, vision, seizures, and mental retardations.

Zika virus can also cause a neurological illness called the Guiliane Barre Syndrome. This is a rare condition with the immune cells of the body damage the nerve cells causing muscle weakness and paralysis even affecting the lung muscles in severe cases.

How can Zika infection be diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose Zika depends on the duration of the symptoms. If the patient presents in the first two weeks, the method used is very sensitive and specific molecular method that is called real-time PCR which is Polymerase Chain Reaction.

This method detects the virus nucleic acids in the blood or the urine (although blood is the preferred sample). After 2 weeks, the patients’ blood is tested for antibodies that are used against the virus. These are the class of IGM antibodies and a test called ELIZA is used.

The unborn child of a pregnant mother can be tested through several ultrasounds and also amniocentesis by testing the amniotic fluids. Apart from this, the cot blood that is seen at the time of birth can also be treated.

The Central for Disease Control and Prevention has also laid down specific guidelines which say that a pregnant woman who has traveled to any place where Zika is prevalent must get tested regardless of whether they present any symptoms or not.

The disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with the Zika virus should get:

  1. Plenty of rest
  2. Drink enough fluids
  3. Treat pain and fever with common medicine.

The WHO recommends that the best way to prevent Zika is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and practice safe sex – because prevention is always better. Research is underway for the vaccination of this disease.

 

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. 


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