Recently, the Zika virus has been in the news a lot and has been a cause for concern around the world. Discovered in a Ugandan forest, the virus has been spreading “explosively” according to the World Health Organisation.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted among humans by the Aedes mosquitoes, which are more active during the day time. Closely related to dengue and chikungunya, the virus was first identified in a rhesus monkey monitored for yellow fever in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. In 1954, the virus was found in humans in Nigeria. Recently more than 13 countries in the American continent have reported Zika infections and it is spreading rapidly.
People infected with the Zika virus experience mild or no symptoms, initially, but develop them a few days later. The symptoms are similar to viruses such as dengue and chikungunya and typically include:
* Remove all sources of stagnant water and monitor them every day.
* Keep underground and overhead tanks covered and clean.
* Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs.
* See that insecticides are sprayed on all pools and water bodies in the vicinity.
* Cover buckets, pots, vessels, etc where the mosquito can breed.
* Use air conditioners.
* Put wire screens and meshes on doors and windows to prevent the entry of mosquitoes.
* Use mosquito nets and natural mosquito repellents while sleeping, especially during the day.
There is no vaccine or treatment for the Zika virus currently. The symptoms are usually manageable and can be treated with common flu medication, rest, and plenty of fluids. The best way to prevent Zika is to avoid mosquito bites. People who are traveling to affected cities should take protective measures to prevent mosquito bites during the day.