The Zika virus is one of the most catastrophic epidemics to hit the world in modern times. This virus causes microcephaly, which is an incomplete development of the human brain. The disease manifests itself as an abnormally small head in infant children. In 2014, Brazil had 150 cases of babies born with microcephaly. Between October 2015 and February 2016, the country had 4,000 infants born with this condition.
The Zika virus also causes Guillain-Barré syndrome, a physiological disorder where the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
It is important to know more about this disease as it continues to cause mass panic and hysteria around the world.
It is important to note that the Zika virus is rather harmless when it comes to adults. People infected with it might not show any symptoms at all. The incubation period for the virus is a few days or even a week so those who show signs of infection may do so after that time elapses.
The most common symptoms are red eyes, joint pain, rashes, and a fever. Other symptoms include headaches and muscle pain. Many times, people do not exhibit signs serious enough for them to go to hospital. More importantly, grown-ups hardly ever die from this kind of infection.
Unfortunately, the impact of this infection on infants born to infected mothers is devastating. As mentioned earlier, it leads to the development of microcephaly in infants. Problems associated with these conditions include seizures, hearing loss, problems with vision, and intellectual disability. Other issues include difficulty swallowing food and developmental delays.
The problem in Brazil was so serious that the government and other health agencies around the world urged women to avoid becoming pregnant as long as the Zika virus was endemic in the country. Many people also called for the cancellation of the world cup 2014 until the Brazilian government contains this virus.
Unfortunately, a vaccine and cure for the Zika virus does not exist as of today. It means that the only way to deal with this virus is to stop it from spreading.
The primary means of transmission is through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. More specifically, only the female transmits this virus into humans. Many of the countries in the Caribbean and Latin America have experienced local Zika virus infections because of the presence of this mosquito in their territories.
Another mode of transmission is through sex and blood transfusion. Countries such as the United States, France, and New Zealand have reported cases of Zika virus infections within their borders resulting from sexual intercourse with people who already had the virus.