Zika Virus

What is Zika virus?

Zika virus is a mosquito born virus  primarily transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.  The Aedes mosquito transmits not only zika virus but also dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Zika virus can be spread by an infected pregnant woman to her fetus causing microcephaly. Zika virus can be transmitted sexually from males to females (there has only been on reported case of transmission from female to male).

What are the symptoms…

Zika virus symptoms usually last 2-7 days; some people do not realize they are experiencing symptoms.  Approximately 70% of patients who get zika virus infection have no symptoms.

Most common symptoms include: headache pain in muscles and joints fever rash malaise inflammation of the eyelid

Where is zika virus found…

Zika virus was first found in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys.  The first human report was in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.  Before 2007, 14 cases of zika virus were reported, likely many cases went unreported.

Zika virus outbreaks have since occurred and have been reported in :

Africa The Americas Carribean Islands Asia The Pacific

In February 2016, the World Health Organization declared zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.

What you can do to protect yourself..

There is no vaccine to prevent zika virus and no specific treatment currently available.  The best form of protection is the use of personal protective measures for insect bites including:

-Wear long, loose light coloured clothing -Remove places where mosquitoes can breed such as still water -Sleep under mosquito nets and/or stay in place with air conditioning and intact windows/screens

The highest risk for travellers are those currently pregnant or planning a pregnancy.  Travel for this risk group should be avoided to risk areas  when possible.  Prior to a trip abroad speak to your medical professional and visit a travel clinic for current information.

Female travellers planning a pregnancy should wait at least 2 months before trying to conceive.

Male travellers planning a pregnancy with their partner should wait at least 6 months before trying for pregnancy after returning from a zika travel risk area.  Zika virus can persist for an extended period of time in semen. If you partner is pregnant, proper use of a condom or avoiding sexual intercourse for the duration of the pregnancy is recommended.

Resources:

Health Canada

World Health Organization

Planning a pregnancy Top 5 Facts About Zika Zika Foundations: Approved Repellents