Zika virus disease is a disease that is spread by a virus that is carried by Aedes mosquitoes, who bite during the day. Zika and Aedes mosquitoes are primarily found in :
- South and Central America
- The Caribbean
- The Pacific Islands
As of 2022, there is currently no medicine or vaccine for Zika. The virus is named Zika due to the fact it was first identified in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947.
Whilst symptoms are usually mild, it can cause serious complications for a fetus if a pregnant woman catches the virus.
Causes of Zika Virus
The Zika virus is primarily spread or transmitted through being bitten by an Aedes mosquito that is infected by the virus. In the tropical or subtropical climates where Aedes mosquitoes can be located, they tend to bite during the day, with most bites being in the early morning and late afternoon/evening. An Aedes mosquito can also spread dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya.
As well as bites, Zika can also be spread from mother to fetus during their pregnancy, it can be spread through sexual contact, having a blood transfusion from someone with the virus, and having an organ transplanted from someone with the virus.
Symptoms of Zika virus
A majority of people who are infected with the Zika virus do not suffer from symptoms, which is why it can be so dangerous for pregnant women. However, when symptoms do appear they usually include:
- A high body temperature.
- Joint pain
- A rash where the bite was
If a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus, then it can cause serious complications for the fetus whilst they’re developing. The baby can have problems with their brain and be born with an unusually small head, which is a medical condition known as microcephaly.
It’s recommended that you avoid being pregnant for up to 3 months after you’ve come back to the UK after visiting a country with Zika, as the symptoms don’t always show.
Treatments for Zika virus
Whilst there is no medicine or vaccines for the Zika virus, if you’ve visited a country or continent that has the virus then it would be worth getting a private Zika virus test.
There are two different types of tests:
The blood test is effective from 15 days of symptoms or potential contact with the virus. There is also a urine test with detection from 1 to 14 days from the onset of symptoms or potential contact with the virus.
In your consultation, your specialist nurse will decide which test is most appropriate depending on the different stages and risk factors.