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Zika Virus Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Updated on April 18, 2017

What Is Zika Virus Disease?

Zika virus disease is a vector-borne disease, which was first discovered in the 1940s. According to CDC, one in five people infected with the virus causing the disease become sick.

Zika Virus Origin: Zika Virus Was First Isolated in the 1940s in the Zika Forest in Uganda

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Causes of Zika Virus Disease

Zika virus disease is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus (ZIKV), a re-emerging Flavivirus, also spread viruses that cause dengue and chickengunya. Zika virus belongs to the Flaviviridae family.

An infected pregnant lady can pass this disease on to her child in utero. Zika virus disease can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. Infected doner of cell, blood or tissue can pass the disease on to the recipient.

Zika Virus Spread to Humans by Aedes Mosquitoes

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Symptoms

Symptoms are mild and last less than a week. Pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle pain, fever, fatigue, chills, sweating, red eyes, headache, vomiting and rash are known symptoms of this disease. Many people infected with Zika virus do not display any symptoms.

Headache Is a Symptom of Zika Virus Disease

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Treatment

As on today there is no specific antiviral treatment for this disease. The goal of treatment is providing relief from symptoms. Doctors usually recommend rest and fluid intake. Oral hydration and intravenous hydration takes care of dehydration.

Doctors use medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to treat joint pain and fever. It is not advisable to take aspirin and other NSAIDs till dengue is ruled out. This is to reduce the risk of bleeding. Many people infected with this virus do not need treatment at all.

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Prevention

As on today there is no Zika virus vaccine. One effective way to prevent the disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Use natural mosquito repellents like lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, soybean oil, neem oil, geraniol, lavender, thyme oil, Greek catnip oil, citronella and tea tree oil.

Make Your Own Natural Mosquito Repellent

Place mosquito repellent plants like basil, marigold, catnip, citronella, lemon balm and lavender in and around your house. Avoid sexual intercourse with strangers. Check travel recommendations. Keep your immune system strong.

5 Foods That Increase Immunity

Sl No
Food
1
Coconut
2
Green tea
3
Blueberries
4
Basil
5
Garlic

Summary

  • One in five people infected with Zika virus become ill.
  • Zika virus was first isolated in Uganda.
  • The disease is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
  • Symptoms last less than a week.
  • There is no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus disease.

The rapidly evolving outbreak of Zika warns us that an old disease that slumbered for 6 decades in Africa and Asia can suddenly wake up on a new continent to cause a global health emergency.

— Dr. Margaret Chan

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