Zika Virus Description

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ZikaVirus Description


Zikais a mosquito-borne disease caused by the virus known by the samename, Zika (ZIKV). It is a single-stranded RNA bug of the GenusFlavivirus. It is classified among common diseases such as the YellowFever and Dengue. The female Aedes mosquito, whose physicalcharacteristics include white and black markings on its body,transmits the disease. The insect usually bites during daytime, andit breeds in standing water (Musso et al., 2015).

Thebug was discovered in 1947 among the Rhesus monkeys in the Zikaforest in Uganda, hence, its name. The first case was reported in1954. Through PCR DNA sequencing, the initial domestic transmissionof Zika virus was confirmed in Brazil in June 2015 and in thefollowing few months, more than 1.5 million cases were reported. Thevirus also spread quickly across the Caribbean and North America. Itis widely believed that the germs were spread from the FrenchPolynesia to North America by travelers attending the FIFAConfederations Cup in 2013 and Soccer world cup competition in 2014(Anthony &amp Morens, 2016). The spread of the Zika virus is likelyto occur in other areas due to various factors, including poorgarbage collection, climate change, the occurrence of vectorsresistant to insecticides, summer heat waves, and heavy rains andfloods (Musso et al., 2015).

Thesymptoms of Zika infection in humans include fever, joint pain, rashand red eyes. It has been documented that if a pregnant woman isinfected with the germ, there are chances that the baby will be bornwith microcephaly, a congenital disability where the baby’s head issmaller than normal and the brains are underdeveloped. The mainclinical symptoms are low-grade fever that is less than 38.50C and maculo-papular rash starting from the upper parts of the humananatomy, specifically, the face. Eventually, it spreads throughoutthe body. Other symptoms include ephemeral arthritis with possiblejoint swellings, particularly in the hands and feet, as well asbilateral non-purulent conjunctivitis that is accompanied bynon-specific signs, including headaches and asthenia (Musso et al.,2015).

Signsof illness start to appear after an incubation period of between 3and 12 days. Since they are mild and short lasting, the illness maybe misdiagnosed as dengue. Diagnosis is hinged on viral RNA detectionfrom clinical specimens, and it can only be found not more than fivedays after the onset of symptoms since the viraemic period isrelatively short. Possible ZIKV infections can be discovered bypan-flavivirus assays and sequencing analysis. In acute phase,molecular detection of the germs has been increased by use of salivasamples, but did not extend the period of diagnosis. However , theuse of urine specimens for analysis by RT-PCR techniques have provento extend the viral exposure period, which is important to allow early intervention by medical practitioners (Anthony &amp Morens,2016).

Neithervaccines nor any other type of treatment is available currently and,therefore, prevention measures are advised. Since exposure toinfected Aedes mosquitos is the key route of infection, personalprotective initiatives like the ones against Chikungunya and denguefever are recommended. Every member of a household should sleep underthe bed net every night all year round. Even if mosquitoes are notheard or seen, the nets should be erected in a way that preventscontact with the sleeping person. Sprays that contain insecticidescan also be used and for Aedes mosquitos that carries the ZIKV virus,multiple applications at regular intervals preferably less than theirincubation period of 8-10 days is sufficient. For travelers, creamswith active ingredients such as N, N diethyl benzamide arerecommended and the frequency of application should vary depending onone’s physical activity, water exposure, air temperature andperspiration rate (Anthony &amp Morens, 2016).

Toreduce cross boundary and imported cases of the Zika virus, travelmedicine clinics and therapists should be alert and thoroughly screenpeople from countries where infections have been reported. Bloodsafety authorities should consider not accepting blood donations fromindividuals with travel history to the affected countries, at leastuntil they are thoroughly examined and confirmed not to carry theinfection. This is because there is evidence that asymptomatictravelers from affected areas could transmit the disease throughblood transfusion (Anthony &amp Morens, 2016).

Earlydetection of imported cases is important to decrease the risks oftransmissions to regions or countries where there are potentialvectors. Vigilance is also essential in some seasons, particularlyduring summer since mosquitos breed and multiply more in hot weather. Zika threatens to become a huge worldwide pandemic for a number ofreasons. The world is more interconnected than ever before,therefore, humans move from one country to other easily.Consequently, they expose nations to cross border risks ofinfections. Climate change also exacerbates the situation due totemperature increases and incidences of natural disasters such asflooding that promote vector breeding.

Inconclusion, theZika virus is a dangerous infection that still lacks a known cure.Scientists and researchers recommend individuals to use preventivemeasures to restrain the spread of the virus to other people andacross the borders. Besides, simple precautions such as screeningdonated blood before conducting a transfusion can prevent infectedpersons from spreading the illness to healthy individuals. Cliniciansalso recommend that governments should use quarantine measures toprevent sick persons from affected regions from spreading thecondition to the adjacent nations.


Anthony,S. and Morens, D. (2016) Zika Virus in the Americas -yet anotherArbovirus Threat.NewEngland Journal of Medicine, 374,601-604.

Musso,D. Cao-Lormeau, V. Tu-Xuan, N. Robin, E. Teissier, A. and Roche C.(2015) Detection of Zika virus in saliva. Journalof Clinical Virology, 68,53-55.

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