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The Essentials – The Zika Virus

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The Mosquito

There’s no end to what one of the world’s tiniest insects can do.

The mosquito is known to be a carrier and host to some of the world’s most dangerous diseases.

They have caused millions of deaths even after taking preventive measures and cures are developed. The mosquito population continues to thrive despite aggressive actions taken against it.

It’s a fact these disease carrying insects are here to stay. The Anopheles and Aedes mosquito were known for the common yellow fever and malaria which to date has led to countless deaths especially in children.

Enter the Aegypti mosquito. Their entrance caused a scare with evidence showing up in form of malformed children.

It was first considered an internet hoax until doctors confirmed the mosquitoes are carriers of the Zika Virus. These same mosquitoes are also carriers of dengue and chikungunya diseases.

Thirty-three countries including the US have recorded cases of the Zika virus with Brazil having the largest number of recorded cases of microcephaly.

Microcephaly comparison

Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

It’s also estimated three to four million people will be infected around the world as the disease continues to spread.

Symptoms and Effects

The Zika virus symptoms from the Aegypti mosquito bite develop over time. The symptoms are very mild within two to seven days.

Twenty percent of the infected people will show severe symptoms while one out of four will even show signs of infection. The symptoms include headaches, conjunctivitis, fever, fatigue, joint pain and rashes.

The virus has become notorious when it comes to causing miscarriages. It has also been associated with neurological and physical disorders in children.

This explains the babies with incomplete brain development and abnormally small heads. Most of these cases have been reported in Brazil.

How Is It Spread?

The Zika virus can be spread in a number of ways. The most common is being bitten by the Aegypti mosquitoes that have bitten infected individuals.

You can also catch the virus through blood transfusion from an infected individual as well as sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Prevention and Cure

The virus is incurable with the infected individuals advised to take a lot of bed rest, fluids and pain relief medicine. It can however be easily prevented by getting rid of breeding places for the mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes love stagnant water. They also thrive well in swampy areas.

Managing and getting rid of these places will kill off any larvae and eventually get rid of the mosquitoes. Get rid of any dump site near your house that will easily harbor water from rain and create a damp environment.

Repellents and the use of sleeping nets will keep you and your loved ones safe in the house. Ensuring you minimize the chances of being bitten will keep off the mosquitoes carrying the virus.

Doctors have also advised most women living in Zika prone regions to postpone getting pregnant and get checked first. This also reduces the chances of deformed babies being born.

Awareness has also been launched in Zika prone areas to counter the effects of the deadly virus.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/zika-virus-symptoms-prevention

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/brain-scans-show-full-horror-of-zika-defects-seattle-expert-says/

http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/zika

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/12/health/zika-virus-pregnant-ultrasound-microcephaly/

About The Author

Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology. She works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and contributes content on Bio-tech, Life Sciences and Viral Outbreaks. Follow Maggie on Twitter @MaggieBiosource

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