Zika Virus: Symptoms and Treatment

Zika Virus: Symptoms and Treatment | HealthSoul

Zika virus is a disease transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, the same type that carries yellow fever and dengue fever. It’s typically transmitted when this mosquito bites an infected person and then goes on to bite other people.

What is Zika Virus?

Risk Factors for Zika Virus

Certain risk factors may leave you more vulnerable to the Zika virus than others. For starters, if you reside in or travel to warm climates with a lot of rain or flooding, your chance of contracting the illness is greater than those who live in or go to places with a different type of climate. Another risk factor is having sexual contact with someone infected with the virus. An infected pregnant mother can also pass the virus to her unborn child.

Causes of Zika Virus

The Zika virus belongs to the Flaviviridae virus family and is similar to other diseases typically transmitted by mosquitoes, including dengue fever, and yellow fever. It starts when mosquitoes infected with the virus bite otherwise healthy individuals.

Symptoms of Zika Virus

Like many viruses similar to Zika, you may have it and not even know it. If you do have symptoms, they’re oftentimes mild and similar to the flu. They may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and a rash. Typically, symptoms clear up within a week.

However, a pregnant woman who contracts the virus may transmit it to her unborn child. If this happens, there is a risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. Additionally, the child may develop birth defects, including microcephaly. Symptoms of microcephaly include the following:

Symptoms of Zika Virus

Diagnosis of Zika Virus

A diagnosis for Zika comes with testing. If you think you may have the virus, schedule a visit with your doctor for a checkup. During your visit, your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests:

  • Nucleic acid testing
  • Immunoglobulin M testing

Diagnosis of Zika virus

Treatment of Zika Virus

Unfortunately, if you have a confirmed diagnosis of the Zika virus, there is not yet a treatment or cure for it. Instead, symptoms are usually treated with over-the-counter medications.

Prognosis of Zika Virus

Oftentimes you may have the virus and not even realize it. If you do have symptoms of the illness, you’re likely to recover completely within a week or so without complications. However, unborn children of infected women have a less favorable prognosis and may experience a host of complications.

Complications of Zika Virus

Microcephaly is only one potential complication of the Zika virus and is more likely to occur during the first trimester. In rare cases, you may experience a condition known as GBS, often referred to as Guillain-Barré syndrome. With this condition, your immune system may become compromised and may attack nerve cells. While rare, if you have it you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Leg and arm weakness
  • Muscle impairment
  • Breathing difficulties

Additionally, if you have GBS, you may experience the above symptoms for an extended period of time. Although most infected people manage to make a full recovery, permanent nerve damage is possible.