YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH ZIKA VIRUS

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Welbeing - Dr. Ash Mina

WHAT IS IT?

Zika virus was first iso­lated in 1947, in a rh­e­sus mon­key at Uganda’s Zika For­est.The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) says the symp­toms are usu­ally mild and nor­mally last two to seven days. Symp­toms are sim­i­lar to dengue and chikun­gunya viruses which are trans­mit­ted by mos­qui­toes and in­clude a mild fever, skin rash, aches and pains, headache, and con­junc­tivi­tis. About one in five peo­ple in­fected with the virus be­come ill. Zika virus usu­ally re­mains in the blood of an in­fected per­son for about a week. Zika is a mos­quito-borne virus, closely re­lated to DENGUE. It’s of par­tic­u­lar con­cern for preg­nant women as there is a pos­si­bil­ity that it may cause mi­cro­cephaly (small/un­der­de­vel­oped brain) in un­born ba­bies.

HOW IS IT SPREAD?

The Zika virus can be spread by mos­quito. Global health ex­perts are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the virus can be trans­mit­ted sex­u­ally. WHAT ARE THE RISKS IN­VOLVED? The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) has de­clared the Zika virus a Pub­lic Health Emer­gency of In­ter­na­tional Con­cern. So far there are two con­firmed cases in Sydney. The WHO is deeply wor­ried about the sit­u­a­tion for four main rea­sons: 1. Zika may be linked to birth mal­for­ma­tions and neu­ro­log­i­cal syn­dromes

2. The po­ten­tial for it to spread fur­ther in­ter­na­tion­ally given the wide ge­o­graph­i­cal dis­tri­bu­tion of the mos­qui­toes that carry it 3. The lack of im­mu­nity in newly af­fected ar­eas. 4. The ab­sence of vac­cines, spe­cific treat­ments and rapid di­ag­nos­tic tests.

WHAT IS THE TREAT­MENT?

There is cur­rently no vac­cine to pre­vent in­fec­tion, and there is no med­i­cal treat­ment for the disease. The WHO’s pre­ven­tion ad­vice is to re­move mos­quito breed­ing sites and re­duce con­tact be­tween mos­qui­toes and peo­ple by us­ing in­sect re­pel­lent, wear­ing clothes (prefer­ably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as pos­si­ble, us­ing phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers such as screens, closed doors and win­dows, and sleep­ing un­der mos­quito nets.

It is also im­por­tant to empty, clean or cover con­tain­ers that can hold water such as buck­ets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mos­qui­toes can breed are re­moved. The US Cen­tres for Disease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) says us­ing an in­sect re­pel­lent is safe and ef­fec­tive for preg­nant or breast­feed­ing women.

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