Monday, September 5, 2016

That stupid Zika - Things to know

I just came back from vacation home in the Caribbean and I met some people who got infected with ZIKA in one form or other. I would not say it is everywhere but there have been some cases given the hot weather and propagation of mosquitoes during wet season. Just because you get bitten, it does not mean you have Zika. Still, it is better to be informed.

It is very important to spread the word about this important health issue. I'm no medical expert so consult your health practitioner.

If you travel to a Zika zone, please read this:

An epidemic is found
mostly in Central America and the Caribbean but also rising in Asia and the South of the United States.
This virus is possibly responsible for serious health problems in the fetus but does not rule out problems after is has been born.Even though Zika infection in adults lasts only a few days, you may or may not get symptoms.

Can the virus be sexually transmitted?

Yes it can be sexually transmitted through any form. That is why it's important to learn more about how you can be safe. Transmission of the virus in women lasts throughout 8weeks and in men up to 6 months! If you travelled to a Zika infected country, get tested so you don't pass it around!

Zika infected people are mostly travelers from affected zones, as they may infect someone else and if it's a pregnant woman, you can imagine how bad this is.

You can transmit it without knowing. Consistent use of a contraceptive like a condom could prevent sexual transmission of Zika.

What causes Zika?
  •     It is mosquito born. Aedes Aegypti mosquito causes it. 
  •   Zika might be sexually transmissible according to studies. 
  •   Zika will infect the baby if the mother is pregnant and is infected.
Zika virus symptoms:

  • Asymptomatic (1 in 5 people experience symptoms) 
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Difficulty hearing

Incubation period for Zika virus: 3 - 13 days
Duration of Zika : Up to 1 week

How long to wait before getting pregnant?

The World Health Organization advises that people wait six months to try for a pregnancy if the male was infected. Risks of sexual transmissible with asymptomatic infection is unknown and needs more research.

Can you protect your baby if you were infected?

There is no known way to protect a developing fetus from Zika infection, not all pregnant woman who gets infected has a baby with birth defects.

More subtler birth defects have been reported in babies born to women with Zika.They are still relatively difficult defects that must be followed up by a doctor. Some birth defects do not become apparent for years.

What test will be done for detecting Zika?

If you present any of the symptoms, go get tested.You must consult your doctor.

 Testing people who travelled to a Zika stricken country is important and it must be done within 2 weeks of exposure. Usually the tests are:
  •     Zika reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
  •     Zika IgM (immunoglobulin M) in serum

 Zika is closely related to dengue and chikungunya and other tests mix them up at times.
 Its recommended the test should be done 2–12 weeks after travel.

Treatment / Prevention

Currently, scientists are working on a vaccine. Today there is no treatment of prevention. The only thing to do to minimize the risks are:

  • Using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET or other chemicals that fight off the Zika mosquito(Aedes Aegypti)
  • Sleep with a mosquito net 
  • Cover your arms and legs with clothes (light colors) and if possible wear socks
  • Do not wear perfume, it attracts mosquitoes
  • Don’t let water accumulate outside in areas where you are staying. After it rains, this happens and mosquitoes develop rapidly.

What if you're pregnant and get infected?

Research is being done to learn more about this virus. 1% of babies have been estimated to suffer from microcephaly. It has been shown to cause a range of other, sometimes less than visible health defects long after birth. Monitoring must be done after birth as well.

Baby health problems:
  •     Microcephaly (impediment of fetal brain development)
  •     Intracranial calcification
  •     Muscular problems even paralysis
  •     Eye conditions
  •     Hearing Problems
  •     Liver failure

Zika infection early in pregnancy (< 7 weeks) may be the most delicate period. Fetal brain development occurs then.

Microcephaly is multifactorial.It can have genetic and environmental causes. It is not only Zika who causes the fetus to get it.

Should you get tested even if you have no symptoms but were exposed?

Yes but remember there is an incubation period so give yourself over a week after you return from an exposed country to go tested. Even if you don't have symptoms, ask your doctor.

Take care of yourselves! I'm going to do it as well.
 Love, Maria del mar