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What is Zika Virus and how does it affect you?

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a virus carried by mosquitos similar to Dengue, Yellow Fever or West Nile Virus. It is primarily carried by the aedes species of mosquito, including the Aedes Aegypti variety, which mainly bite during the day.

An emerging infectious disease, early Zika cases were reported as far back as 1964, with sporadic outbreaks occurring in numerous countries since. Following an outbreak in 2015 in several Caribbean Islands, this disease has now spread to the wider Americas where it is currently making headlines.

What does Zika Virus mean to me?

Zika Virus causes symptoms similar to Dengue Fever, such as fever, headache, conjunctivitis, rash, joint and muscle pain. Illness can last anywhere from 4-7 days, and the incubation period is between 3-12 days. Of greater concern than the immediate symptoms is the growing evidence for birth defects in infected pregnant women. More rarely, sufferers can display post-infection neurological complications too. There is no specific treatment to target Zika, instead the emphasis is on managing symptoms.

How can I protect myself against Zika Virus?

No vaccine is currently available against Zika Virus. In this case, prevention truly is better than cure – the advice is to avoid mosquito bites, particularly during daylight hours. Any travellers visiting affected regions are advised to stay vigilant and take the typical precautions against mosquitos. These include staying covered up, using insect repellent and insecticide, as well as sleeping under a mosquito net and using air conditioning. Removing sites where mosquitos typically congregate to breed (typically around still or stagnant water) is advised, particularly where close to bedroom or sleeping areas.

Due to the possible link between Zika Virus and birth abnormalities, pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy are advised to talk to their healthcare professional. They should be able to advise on the potential risks, and allow the traveller to make an informed decision as to whether their travel plans should be changed.

If you’re concerned about Zika Virus or planning to travel to an infected area, call Wrightway Health today on 01603 274 460.

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