The following information is a recapitulation of the article first published on the official site of Chile’s Dr. Sergio Cortes of sergiocortesoficial.com, a man of multiple trades including tennis player, an orthopedic surgeon, and the former executive of Rio de Janeiro.
The Zika virus emerged in the 1940s when the disease was first identified in Africa. Countries, where it was first observed, included Uganda, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. According to a Linked In post by Dr. Sergio Cortes, the virus spread over the next few years to Asia, including India and Thailand. More recently, in 2015, the virus began to circulate throughout Latin America and has affected many countries there including Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.
The epidemic has reached such heights that the WHO (World Health Organization) has issued a warning about the dangers, possible impacts and consequences of the disease to those infected. Potential impacts include macrocephaly (big head syndrome) and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a neurological autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves and eventually leads to paralysis. Both microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome were reported in the same areas where the Zika virus was confirmed to have existed months prior.
How do people catch the Zika virus?
To answer this question simply, the Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito bite. It is not contagious and, therefore, cannot be transmitted through contact with infected people. Initially, it was only believed to be carried by Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species also responsible for dengue fever and chikungunya outbreaks, but Dr. Cortes has recently informed the populace that other mosquitos can also carry and transmit the virus after feeding on an infected person.
What are the symptoms and treatment of the Zika virus?
According to Dr. Cortes, the limited symptoms that occur include fever, muscular pain and rashes. These usually last between 3 to 7 days before disappearing. Anyone who believes to have contracted the Zika virus must be diagnosed at one of the three branches of Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz for short) or the Evandro Chagas Institute. Treatment is limited to relieving symptoms; unfortunately, there is still no cure for the disease. Anti-inflammatories and painkillers are recommended while doctors caution against aspirin.
Prevention of the Zika virus.
First and foremost, women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, must take special precautions. Among the most important is avoiding mosquito bites. Women are cautioned to wear long, loose clothing when in areas that may expose them to mosquitoes. Trying to avoid those areas altogether is the best plan of action. Otherwise, try to clear up any areas containing pools of water, where mosquitos prefer laying eggs. Also, place screens on windows and nets around beds in heavily infested locales.