What is Zika Virus?
What is Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a virus that is transmitted by a specific breed of mosquito called Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Other diseases carried by mosquitos include West Nile, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, and Japanese encephalitis. These diseases are referred to as Vector Diseases and the insects and mosquitoes that carry them as Vectors.
The name for the Zika Virus actually comes from the Zika Forest in Uganda, which is where this virus first became isolated in 1947. The infection is also known as Zika Fever and can occasionally present symptoms similar to that of Dengue. These symptoms are often mild or you may not show symptom at all. According to the CDC, only about 1 in 5 people who contract the virus will develop Zika fever.
If symptoms are present, they may include fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis. You may also suffer from headaches and muscle pain. These symptoms can last anywhere from several days to a week. The incubation period is not known, but they do know that the virus remains in the blood stream for about a week, though some people show signs of it lasting longer in their system. If you are pregnant and become infected with this virus, you may suffer a miscarriage or your fetus may end up with microcephaly, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes a reduced head size. If you are at all concerned can check the official CDC advice regarding symptoms here or contact a qualified healthcare professional.
For anybody that would like more in-depth information about Zika Virus, please do check out Dr Cameron Webb's (University of Sydney & Pathology West) Blog. It has some valuable Mosquito Awareness posts worth reading.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the best way to protect yourself is by using the proper insect repellent.
Unfortunately, not all bug sprays are created equal and you need to be sure that you check the ingredients to make sure that you are fully protected. To make sure that you pick the best mosquito repellent, you need to make sure that they have these active ingredients: DEET, Geraniol, Citronella, IR3535, or Icaridin.
It is also important to note that the Aedes mosquitos - which are the carriers of Zika Virus - are primarily found during the day, unlike other mosquitos. They can be found around stagnant water, so it is advisable to regularly check your land and nearby area for any bodies of water that could be used for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Depending on your area's level of risk, it may be beneficial to buy mosquito traps to help keep them away or simply use a mosquito repellent for yards. For children, an alternative could be mosquito repellent bracelets, which are a great alternative to sprays as you won't have the worry of whether they are reapplying a spray throughout the day when at school or away from home. There is also a range of mosquito repellents for babies, children and pets, all of which are less harsh than the options for adults.
If you are someone that does not like the idea of spraying chemicals on yourself or your children, there are alternatives. The best mosquito repellents are actually made from the same ingredients that you will find in any good essential oil mosquito repellent. These essential oils include lavender, lemongrass, clove, basil, geranium, peppermint, citronella, catnip, lemon eucalyptus, citronella, eucalyptus, and lemon. You may even choose to simply burn a mosquito repellent candle in your home or garden.
If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it is especially important for you to take precautions. Since the virus can live in your bloodstream after the infection has cleared, that means if you get pregnant during the time the infection is still in your blood you will run the risk of transmitting Zika to your fetus, leading to potential complications. Thankfully, DEET repellents are suitable for pregnant women and are specifically recommended by the World Health Organisation and the CDC. If you do not want to use the sprays when you are pregnant, you do have the option of using mosquito repellent bracelets or bands.
Prevention is crucial to help protect yourself from the Zika virus, so make sure that you are always protected.