The Zika virus is a disease that has been known to exist in equatorial countries in South America and Africa for decades, having first been detected in the 1950s.
Many of the people who are infected by the condition may not even know that they are infected, which makes it an even more difficult disease to diagnose and to deal with. However, there are certain precautions that you can take to help prevent yourself from catching the disease, and also some people are advised not to travel to the region if they are susceptible to the problems caused by the Zika virus.
How Do You Catch the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is actually a disease that is in the same family as yellow fever and dengue fever, and as with both of those diseases, the main reservoir of the disease is actually in the mosquito population, of which there are plenty in Brazil.
The most common method of infection is from a mosquito bite, which means that taking precautions against mosquitoes is one of the best forms of defense against the disease. Since January 2016, there has also been speculation that the disease may have evolved to be transmitted sexually, with a small number of cases having been identified.
Is the Zika Virus Infectious?
There is no successful vaccine that has been developed for the Zika virus, which is why there is significant concern in many areas about travel to Brazil and some neighboring countries.
The reality is that mosquito bites are all too common in areas of Brazil, so it is a condition that is relatively easy to catch. Although there is no evidence that the virus has become airborne, the fact that it has started to show signs of becoming transmitted from person to person does make it a greater risk.
The Symptoms Of The Virus
Most people who contract the Zika virus are not aware they are carrying the disease, as the symptoms are quite mild, with most experiencing headaches and a rash that may last for up to five days.
The real concern when it comes to the effect of the virus is what can happen if a pregnant woman is carrying the disease or becomes infected while pregnant, as the virus can cause microcephaly in babies. This means that the brains and skulls of babies do not develop in the normal way, and this can cause neurological difficulties, including motor function issues, impaired intellectual development and seizures.
Treatment for the Zika Virus
Not only is there not a vaccine for the Zika virus, but since the boom in the prevalence of the virus in January 2016 there is not a cure for the virus either.
Those who have traveled to regions at risk are advised to monitor symptoms such as rashes, headaches and joint pain, and to get tested for the virus and stay away from pregnant women until the presence of the virus can be confirmed or dismissed.
Precautions You Can Take to Avoid Catching the Zika Virus
There are several ways that people can take precautions, but pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant should seriously consider travel to Brazil and other countries where the virus is a risk. As the disease may be transmitted by sexual contact it is worth ensuring safer sex with a condom.
Finally, a mosquito net is essential in order to avoid mosquito bites. Before going to bed travelers should take a second look to ensure there aren't holes. When out and about, wear long sleeved clothing to minimize the amount of bare skin on display, and ensure that you wear an insect repellent that should help prevent any mosquito bites.