Zika Virus Symptoms & Treatment in Cambridge, OH
The Zika virus, named after Uganda's Zika Forest where it was first discovered in 1947, is a dangerous virus most often spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The first human cases of Zika were detected in 1952. Outbreaks of Zika have since been reported internationally—concentrated primarily in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has also been reported in the continental United States.
Because the symptoms of the Zika virus are mild and also similar to those of many other diseases, actual cases of Zika are underreported and outbreaks may at first go undetected. The devastating effects of the Zika virus on pregnant women and their fetuses, however, can result in life-threatening birth defects and a lifetime of mental and physical disability for the children left in its wake.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Cambridge that can discuss the Zika virus with you, call (740) 439-3515 or contact Dr. Stephen Durant online.
How Can You Contract Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is spread primarily through the infected Aedes species of mosquito. Increasingly known as the Zika mosquito, these mosquitoes live indoors and outdoors, near people, as they prefer to feed on humans. Attacks may occur during the day or night. They typically congregate and lay eggs around standing water in animal dishes, buckets, flower pots, bowls and vases. There is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of the Zika virus they carry.
If a person travels into an area where there is a Zika outbreak and is infected, when they return home, local Aedes mosquitos can bite them and become infected, thus spreading the Zika virus into a new area, and causing a new outbreak of the disease.
The Zika virus can be sexually transmitted and spread by blood transfusions as well. In addition, the Zika virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing severe, irreversible birth defects. Zika virus can also survive in semen even after the virus symptoms are gone and infect a woman prior to or during attempts at conception.
Zika Virus Birth Defects
Zika virus infection during pregnancy—or even prior to or during conception—can cause certain Zika virus birth defects, including:
- Excessive muscle tone that restricts the infant’s movement after birth
- Limited range of motion in certain joints (e.g., clubfoot)
- Eye damage or deformities
- Brain damage in specific pattern
- Microcephaly (including the possibility of life-threatening severe microcephaly with partial collapse of the skull)
The chances of severe birth defects from a congenital Zika infection are extremely high. Fortunately, future Zika infections are unlikely and future pregnancies should not be impacted once the virus has cleared from the systems of both mother and father. Studies are underway to determine how long the Zika virus can survive in the blood, vaginal fluids and semen of infected individuals. If you are attempting to conceive a child, it is recommended that you wait at least 8 weeks to try to conceive, if the female partner was exposed. If the male partner was exposed to Zika, the recommended wait-time is at least six months.
Zika Virus Symptoms and Diagnosis
The telltale symptoms are the Zika fever and the Zika rash. The fever is usually mild and may be accompanied by chills and body aches. The rash—sometimes itchy, sometimes simply uncomfortable, and other times described as "burning"—will often emerge early on, sometimes on the hands and arms, but it may spread over the entire body. Other Zika virus symptoms usually include:
- Red or bloodshot eyes
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Fatigue or general malaise
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
Zika symptoms are normally mild and can be confused with other diseases' symptoms, causing a drastic underreporting of the Zika virus. Some infected people have no symptoms at all, and when symptoms occur, not only are they mild, but they also often last no more than a few days to a week at most.
In order to diagnose the Zika virus, your healthcare provider will:
- Ask you about any known recent travel in your circle of family, friends and co-workers
- Discuss your symptoms
- Conduct blood and urine tests that detect Zika and other similar viruses like Dengue and Chikungunya
Zika Virus Treatment
There is not a vaccine, cure or even a treatment regimen yet identified for the Zika virus. Your Zika virus treatment will address your symptoms, and may include:
- Fluids to prevent dehydration
- Pain-relieving, fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen (avoid aspirin and other NSAIDS)
Discuss any other medications you may be taking with your healthcare provider. If you are pregnant and are diagnosed with Zika, you will need to discuss options for addressing potential birth defects in your infant with your healthcare provider.
Zika Virus Prevention
The best means to protect you and your family—and your unborn child especially—from the Zika vira is to take the following preventative steps:
- Avoid travelling to an area with a known or suspected Zika outbreak
- Apply EPA-registered insect repellents
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize mosquito exposure
- Sleep in air conditioned rooms with closed or screened windows
- If sleeping outdoors, or in rooms that are not screened or closed off from the outdoors, sleep under mosquito netting
- Do not engage in sexual relations with an individual infected with Zika or known to have travelled to an area with a Zika outbreak, especially if you are pregnant or trying to conceive
- Use condoms for oral, anal or vaginal sex (even when using sex toys)
If a family member, friend or co-worker has recently returned from a Zika outbreak area, a local mosquito can bite them and infect you. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider. If you are pregnant, avoiding all contact with infected individuals until they are no longer contagious would be ideal, if feasible.
Request more information about the Zika virus prevention and treatment options today. Call (740) 439-3515 or contact Dr. Stephen Durant online.
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Cambridge, OH 43725
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