There is nothing that worries a pregnant woman more than the possibility of harm to her unborn child. So the news that there is an untreatable illness that is linked to significant birth defects has left millions of American and even the rest of the world wonder what this infectious disease is all about- The Zika Virus and how to stay protected.
What is the Zika Virus?
Zika is a virus transmitted primarily by aggressive Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same species that spreads dengue. It was initially identified in 1947, but it was isolated for the first time in 1968. For most people, this virus causes just a brief mind flu-like disease, but for pregnant women, this illness is linked to an alarming increase of a birth defect known as microcephaly-an abnormal small head and a condition associated with incomplete brain development. According to CDC website, Zika virus cannot be transmitted from person to person and the brief mildness illness it causes to most people, seldom require hospitalization, and it rarely proves to be fatal.
Although the Zika virus is not new, it is new to Americans. The first case was recently reported in Brazil, and it has spread through South and Central America and the Caribbean. The virus arrival and its rapid spread in the country mean that everyone should be extra careful and take extra precaution to avoid infection considering that this virus has no vaccines, cure or even preventative medication so far.
How to stay protected From Zika Virus.
The only way to avoid a mosquito bite is to use insect repellents that are approved by Environmental Protection Agency and one that contain at least 20 percents of picaridin, DEET or oil of lemon-eucalyptus, especially when venturing outdoors. It is also recommended to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants especially near dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are very active. CDC also recommends that you use permethrin-treated clothing and gears such as boots, socks, pants and even tents.
If you are pregnant (any semester), you should consider postponing travel to areas where the Zika virus is active, and if you have to, talking to your doctor first and following the necessary precaution measures during your trip is imperative.
Even though there are no vaccines and medications, for now, there are ways you can treat the symptoms, i.e., by drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest, and taking medication that can relieve pain and fever.
There is a lot we are yet to know about The Zika Virus, but scientist and researchers all over the world are trying all they can to create a Zika Vaccine. But until their effort bears fruit, it is important to keep yourself informed about the Zika Virus and how to stay protected at all times.