5 Things You Need to Know about the Zika Virus
1. The Zika virus is linked to a serious birth defect.
The Zika virus is linked to microcephaly, a serious birth defect which impacts the skull and brain development of a fetus. There are additional health problems associated with microcephaly, some of which include seizures, developmental delay, hearing loss, feeding issues, vision issues, and trouble with balance. Pregnant women, or women who are trying for a pregnancy, are encouraged to review the CDC’s current travel guide on visiting countries with widespread Zika outbreaks.
2. The Zika virus does not typically pose a serious health threat.
Outside of the health risks to the fetus during pregnancy, the Zika virus is not typically a life-threatening condition. The CDC describes the Zika virus as a “mild” condition, with symptoms lasting from a few days to a week. Most people do not need to visit a hospital, and symptoms are limited to fever, joint pain, rash, headache, or conjunctivitis (infected, red eyes). Patients are advised to visit Pacific Family Practice if symptoms are present after visiting an area with a Zika virus outbreak.
3. There is currently no vaccine to prevent or treat the Zika virus.
Scientists are working to develop an effective Zika virus vaccine. Current treatment includes staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep and rest, taking over-the-counter pain medication for fever and headaches, and visiting your provider if symptoms worsen or continue after one week. Patients are advised not to take aspirin.
4. The Zika virus is mainly spread through mosquitoes.
A bite from an infected mosquito is the main way the Zika virus is transmitted. It is also transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, though doctors are still unsure how this happens. In rare cases, the virus can be transmitted sexually. The first case of sexual transmission of the Zika virus in the United States was documented recently in Dallas, Texas.
5. We’re learning more about the Zika virus each day.
As the Zika virus spreads, doctors are learning more about the virus, its transmission, and its treatment. Advice about areas to avoid and steps to take in order to prevent contracting the virus can change from week to week, which is why the providers of Pacific Family Practice advise staying up-to-date with the CDC’s guide on the Zika virus.