Zika Virus: Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Neelu Prajapat.

The Zika virus has been in the news a lot lately. But what is it, and what should you do if you think you might have it? In this blog post, we will discuss how it’s spread, its symptoms, and its treatment. We will also talk about what you can do to protect yourself from the Zika virus.

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a viral infection that is spread by mosquitoes. It can cause serious birth defects in newborn babies, including microcephaly (a small head and brain).

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted via mosquito bites and is most common in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. The majority of individuals infected with the Zika virus have either no or mild signs and symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the Zika Virus?

Up to 90% of those affected by the Zika virus have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they generally begin two to 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms usually last about a week and most people fully recover.

The most common symptoms are

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain

Other symptoms include conjunctivitis (red eyes), headache, fatigue, and muscle pain. The symptoms of the Zika virus are similar to other viruses, such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

How is the Zika Virus spread?

The Zika virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites by Aedes aegypti mosquitos. It can also be spread through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth. It is more common in the spring and summer months when mosquitoes are more active.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for the Zika virus include living in or traveling to an area where the virus is present, being bitten by an infected mosquito, and having unprotected sex with an infected partner.

How is the Zika virus diagnosed?

The Zika virus is typically diagnosed based on symptoms and a person’s travel history. A blood or urine test can also be used to diagnose the virus.

If you’re pregnant and at risk of infection, your doctor may prescribe one of the following procedures:

  • An ultrasound to search for fetal brain damage
  • An amniocentesis to test for the presence of virus in the fetus

How is the Zika Virus treated?

There is no specific treatment for the Zika virus. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms.

People should get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and pain.

What can I do to prevent Zika Virus?

There is no vaccine available for the Zika virus. The best way to prevent the virus is to avoid mosquito bites. This can be done by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, using mosquito repellent, and staying in places with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.

What are some of the risks associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy?

Pregnant women who become infected with the Zika virus are at risk for several serious fetal birth defects, including microcephaly (a small head and brain) in their babies.

It has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis.

How can pregnant women protect themselves from Zika virus infection?

Pregnant women should take steps to prevent mosquito bites and should not travel to areas where the Zika virus is present. If you must travel to one of these areas, you should talk to your doctor first and take steps to prevent mosquito bites.  

The CDC is warning pregnant women not to get infected with the Zika virus. They recommend avoiding sex or using condoms during all your sexual encounters if you live in or have traveled recently and come from an area where there have been outbreaks because it can cause birth defects.

If you think you have the Zika virus, you should see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent the chances of birth defects.

Written by: Neelu Prajapat.


Zika Virus in Pregnancy / CDC

Zika Virus / MedlinePlus

Mosquito Bites / MayoClinic