What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

zika virusThe Zika virus, which is spread by infected mosquitos, has made a great many headlines around the world in recent months, causing a great deal of concern due to the link between the virus and birth defects. Here is some information on this virus, including symptoms and when you need to get medical help.

What is the Zika Virus?

Zika virus disease, named after Uganda’s Zika forest, was first diagnosed in humans in 1952. Outbreaks have occurred in many areas, including the Pacific Islands, Africa and Southeast Asia. It is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes species. The Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed case of the virus in Brazil last year, and the World Health Organization declared the virus an international emergency on Feb. 1, 2016.

What are the Zika Virus Symptoms?

Typically, the symptoms associated with the Zika virus include joint pain, red eyes, rash and fever. While the illness is usually mild, symptoms could last for up to a week after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. The virus is very rarely fatal and usually does not require hospitalization. In fact, many people who have the disease do not even know it because they do not show symptoms.

When Do I Need to See a Zika Virus Doctor?

If you are pregnant and show symptoms within two weeks after you have traveled to a place where a Zika outbreak has been reported, you should see a doctor as soon as you can. Tell your doctor exactly where you have traveled. He or she may order blood tests to check for Zika or other viruses that are similar. Researchers are currently working on ways to detect Zika in the supply of blood used for transfusions.

At this time, there is no medicine available to treat Zika virus disease, and there is no vaccine to prevent it. If you have any questions about Zika, get in touch with Addison Internal Medicine. Give us a call at 972-301-7060 or contact us online. If you would like to keep updated on the virus, the Centers for Disease Control is an excellent resource.