Zika is a RNA virus which occurs by the bite of infected Aedes mosquito. This virus is related to the West Nile, yellow fever and dengue viruses. A person bitten by this mosquito becomes viremic and when he is bitten by another mosquito the virus is passed along. Viremic men can also transmit this virus to their partners sexually. It is thus suggested to use protection if your male partner is infected by the Zika virus or has travelled to a place where this virus is spreading.
Zika virus outbreak was reported throughout Africa from 1951 to 1981. However, the virus has spread rapidly since its cases were discovered in Latin America in 2014. Africa, Pacific Islands and the United States are the places where the Zika virus is currently active. The virus caused the death of a Utah resident as per a statement released by the Salt Lake County Department of Health on the 8th of July this year. This was the first reported Zika related death in the continental United States. Another Zika related death was reported on the 29th of April in Puerto Rico.
Zika has also become a cause of birth defects. Quite a few cases of Zika-related birth defects have been reported in the United States. The cases of this infection are on a rise in the United States. As Dr. Chan from WHO states, the virus related cases are “spreading explosively”. Health officials are still trying to figure out the possible causes of the rapid spread of this virus as well as the ways to curb the problem. “I think the world got caught by surprise at the congenital infections. Now there’s going to be a lot of interest in a vaccine for women of reproductive age, like the rubella vaccine [to prevent birth defects]”, shared Peter Jay Hotez, MD, Ph.D. and dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.
In most cases, the individuals infected by this virus only suffer from mild flu, fever and rashes. However, as per the latest research, it likely causes Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults wherein the immune system attacks the nerves and causes muscle weakness and may even result in paralysis. In pregnant women, it leads to birth defects such as microcephaly where in the infant suffers from an abnormally small head and brain size. The symptoms of Zika-virus are usually muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis, flu and headache. Internal bleeding has also been observed in rare cases.
As a precautionary measure the Food and Drug Administration suggests not to donate organs, blood, tissue, semen, oocytes, heart valves, placenta, umbilical cord blood, corneas and bone skin within six months of having:
a) Suffered from Zika infection
b) Having physical intercourse with a man infected with this virus.
c) Having travelled to Zika active zone.