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All about 'Zika'

August 16, 2016

 

Q: What is Zika? 

A: The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection which was first identified in Africa in 1947. It has spread significantly across the world since the first reported case in Brazil in 2015. 

 

For most people it is a very mild infection and isn't harmful. However, scientists believe it's behind an unprecedented rise in the number of children being born with unusually small heads - microcephaly - in Zika infected areas. 

 

The virus is transmitted to people primarily through an infected Aedes species mosquito, although it can also be passed from person-to-person via sexual contact with an infected man.

 

Q:What happens if I catch it?

A: The majority of those infected with Zika have no symptoms and won't even know they've got the virus. In others it can cause a mild illness with symptoms including a rash, conjunctivitis, fever and headaches. These will generally last for a few days to a week. 

 

However, the virus can cause microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities in babies born to mothers infected with the virus.

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults. 

 

People very rarely die from Zika and infected people who have died have had underlying conditions. 

 

Q:Is there a cure?

A: No vaccine currently exists to prevent Zika. However, in June 2016 researchers at the Pasteur Institute in France found that both Zika and dengue fever can be neutralised by the same antibodies, leading to the possibility of a super-vaccine to tackle both. The dengue virus is similar to the Zika virus.  They both belong to the same viral family, called the Flaviviridae, and are transmitted by the same mosquito. 

 

People diagnosed with the Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines, according to the WHO. 

 

Q:How do people catch it?

A: The main form of transmission is mosquito bites, however there have been some cases which have occurred through sex with an infected man. There is also evidence of transmission from mother to child during pregnancy.

 
Q:What can I do to avoid it?

A: Prevention is key. 

  • Pregnant women should not to travel to areas where Zika is circulating

  • Pregnant women's partners returning from Zika-infected shouldpractice safer sex or abstain from sex throughout the pregnancy

  • Avoid getting mosquito bites by using insect repellants, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers

  • Use air conditioning and/or a window screen to keep mosquitoes outside

  • Sleep under a mosquito net

  • Reduce the number of mosquitoes by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or bucket

 

 

 

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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