The Zika Basics – Everything You Need to Know About Zika, Plus Links
Below are some quick facts on Zika virus, including resources explaining what we know about the Zika, Zika symptoms, and how to get tested for Zika.
What is Zika and Why Does it Matter?
Zika is a virus transferred by misquotes (primarily by Aedes mosquitoes). People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
The aforementioned we know for sure, the next part about birth defects is not clearly proven yet.
Zika virus is dangerous because Zika infection during pregnancy may cause fetuses to have a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (again this is theory, not proven yet). Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.Zika Virus: What We Know (And What We Don’t).
Detecting Zika and Protecting Against Zika
Zika virus is hard to detect. According to the CDC:
- Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.
- A blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection diagnosis.
- There is no specific medicine for Zika.
Symptoms of Zika
As noted above, many people who are infected with Zika won’t have clear symptoms. With that said, symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
If the above symptoms last more than a week, you may want to consider getting tested (especially if you are in an at risk area). As noted some symptoms only last a few days and are hard to detect, so unfortunately there is no single absolute clear symptom or time length of symptom to consider.
If You Think You Have Zika
If you think you have Zika, you should according to the CDC:
- See your doctor or other healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
- Learn what you can do for treatment.
- Learn how you can protect others if you have Zika.
Testing for Zika
If you have the above persistent symptoms, are pregnant, or have recently traveled to an at risk area you may want to consider getting tested for Zika.
- Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results.
- A blood or urine test can confirm a Zika infection.
- Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.
Treatment for Zika
There is no known cure for Zika, but there are treatments.
There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus.
- Treat the symptoms.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
TIP: For another perspective see WHO Zika virus Fact sheet Updated 2 June 2016.The Devastating Zika Virus Explained.