What is the Zika virus?
Zika virus is a viral infection spread by the Aedes Aegpti mosquito - a type of mosquito that also transmits dengue fever and chikungunya. The Aedes Aegpti mosquito spreads the Zika virus by sucking the virus from an infected person, then transmitting it to healthy people.
How common is this disease?
The Zika virus is common in tropical regions where Aedes Aegpti mosquitoes are found. This virus can attack anyone in various ages. However, pregnant women or anyone who lives or travels to areas where Zika infection is at risk for infection.
Similarly, people who have sex with partners who are infected with Zika. Even so, this condition can be treated by reducing risk factors. Discuss with your doctor for more information.
Signs & Symptoms
What are the signs and symptoms of the Zika virus?
In most cases people who are infected with this virus show no symptoms at all. In fact, according to the Ministry of Health, only 1 in 5 people infected shows symptoms of the Zika virus.
Although most people who experience the Zika virus don't feel any symptoms, here are the most common signs and symptoms of the Zika virus:
- Feel itchy in almost all parts of the body
- Headache and dizziness
- Experiencing joint pain and swelling in the joints
- Muscle ache
- Eyes become red
- Feeling pain in the back
- Pain in the back of the eye
- Red spots appear on the surface of the skin
Regarding the symptoms of the Zika virus, a number of health experts see that there are many similarities between the symptoms of dengue fever and Zika fever. However, the thing that most distinguishes between the symptoms of the Zika virus with dengue fever is that the fever that arises due to infection with this virus tends not to be too high, sometimes only at a maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.
In most cases, people who contract Zika's disease can recover completely and symptoms improve on their own. A person infected with this virus will generally recover within 7 to 12 days.
Even so in some more serious cases, this condition requires further treatment in the hospital because of nerve and autoimmune disorders in people infected with the Zika virus. If this happens, the doctor will make a further diagnosis by conducting a laboratory examination in the form of RT-PCR & antibody tests.
When should I see a doctor?
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, here are some things you can do at home to relieve the symptoms:
- Get enough rest.
- Drink plenty of mineral water to prevent dehydration and excessive fluid loss.
- Taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever that occur.
- It is not recommended to take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
If your condition does not improve for more than three days, immediately consult a doctor. The sooner you respond to the symptoms that are felt, it will minimize the existence of more serious complications. But remember, the Zika virus symptoms mentioned above might not be the same as what you are experiencing. The reason is, each person's body is different.
What causes this disease?
This virus infection was first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947. In humans, the virus was first discovered in 1954 in Nigeria. Even its appearance had plague in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Even so, the majority of cases that occur are still small scale and are not considered a major threat to human health. However, the spread of Zika began to threaten the global community since the epidemic on the American continent, especially Brazil in 2015.
This type of mosquito is active during the day that can live indoors or outdoors. If the Aedes Aegepti mosquito sucks the blood of a person exposed to Zika, the mosquitoes can transmit Zika to the next person to whom they suck their blood. In addition, based on research it is proven that the Zika virus can be spread through sexual contact and blood transfusions. The Zika virus can also be transmitted from mother to child through pregnancy.
Who is at risk of Zika disease?
Here are the factors that increase your risk of contracting Zika virus, namely:
1. Pregnant women
In the official page of the Indonesian Ministry of Health, it is stated that the greatest danger from the Zika virus attack actually appears to pregnant women, because pregnant women who are positive for having the virus are likely to be able to transmit the virus to the fetus in their womb. If the virus attacks pregnant women, the result will be damage to the muscle tissue and nervous system including the central nervous system in the brain from the fetus.
Pregnant women who are infected with Zika will risk giving birth to children who have microcephaly or head size that is too small. Keep in mind, until now there is a relationship between Zika virus infection in pregnant women with the incidence of microcephalus in babies born has not been scientifically proven, but the evidence in that direction is getting stronger. This is based on several studies conducted in the Zika virus distribution area in 2015.
Microchepaly in infants can cause the baby to experience complications such as, unable to grow and develop normally, have disabilities on his face, experience mental retardation, hyperactivity, and seizures.
Zika virus can be detected in pregnant women by doing RT-PCR examination, when the pregnant woman has a fever in the first week the symptoms of the Zika virus appear. Therefore, pregnant women are advised not to travel to the place where the Zika virus outbreak is occurring to prevent the infection.
2. unprotected sexual relations
The CDC has confirmed that Zika can spread through sex, usually after someone has traveled to the area where Zika has become epidemic. Zika can also be missed doing sex, even though an infected person has no symptoms at the time.
The first case that proves that Zika can be transmitted through sex is in July 2016 in New York City. At that time, United States health authorities reported that a woman transmitted the Zika virus to a man through unprotected sex. Before that, experts had only found cases where men transmitted the virus to their partners through sex, as well as transmission from mosquito bites.
Several studies have shown that this virus can be transmitted in the blood - donor blood, semen, urine, and saliva of an infected person, as well as eye fluid.
3. Go to the infected area
Some of the cases that cause the Zika virus are related to travel to areas that are currently infected. CDC issues travel warnings regarding Zika virus spread maps. The following are some of the tropical regions to look out for:
Countries with the spread of Zika classified as extraordinary events (KLB)
- Cape Verde
- El Salvador
Countries with Zika distribution have active transmission status
- The Dominican Republic
- French Guiana
- New Caledonia
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Martin
- US Virgin Islands
For more information, you can refer to the CDC website for the latest developments in the Zika distribution area to watch out for. If after you return from a country and you start to feel pain related to the symptoms of the Zika virus as mentioned above, be sure to tell your doctor and nurse about your past travel destinations.
Why is it important to be aware of this disease?
In rare cases, the Zika virus is also known to cause a person to experience Guillane Bare's syndrome, a syndrome characterized by serious disorders of the central nervous system. Therefore, it is important for all of us to prevent outbreaks of this Zika virus.
How to diagnose this disease?
The first step in diagnosing the Zika virus is to provide your medical and travel history with your doctor, including personal information such as sexual activity that you have with a partner.
To confirm the diagnosis of the symptoms the patient is complaining about, the doctor will recommend the patient to have a blood test. This blood test is done to detect viral nucleic acids, isolate viruses, and serological tests. In addition to blood tests, doctors also make it possible to do urine and saliva tests on the third day until the fifth day when symptoms are still ongoing.
From the results of blood tests that have been carried out on pregnant women, the medical team can:
- Detects microcephaly and disorders of the brain through ultrasound tests.
- Take a sample of amniotic fluid and examine the uterus using a hollow needle.
How to treat Zika?
Until now there is no specific treatment for the Zika virus, this is because at first the infection was considered not severe and only a few cases were reported. So, the current treatment still focuses on managing the symptoms that are felt. However, there are several things you can do if you are indicated to have symptoms of the zika virus, namely:
- Meet fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- Take pain medications such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to relieve fever and headaches.
- Do not forget to always discuss with your doctor before you use additional medicines other than those mentioned above.
- Enough rest.
- Don't take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue is removed to reduce the risk of bleeding.
- Patients who have been infected with the Zika virus are expected to avoid mosquito bites while contracting this virus because the Zika virus which can last a long time in the blood of patients can spread to others through mosquito bites.
Until now, this disease cannot be prevented by vaccines. If you are infected with the Zika virus, avoid mosquito bites during the first week to minimize the possibility of spreading the disease. The first week of infection is a critical period in which the Zika virus is active in the bloodstream and is easily transmitted through mosquitoes. One mosquito can infect many others.
How to prevent being infected with Zika virus?
Zika virus disease. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/zika-virus/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/dxc-20189306. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Zika & Pregnancy, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html. Accessed July 19, 2016.
Questions about Zika Virus - http://www.depkes.go.id/resources/download/info-terk// QUESTIONS%20SEPUTAR%20PAKYAK%20VIRUS%20ZIKA.pdf accessed on 6 September 2017
Reviewed date: September 8, 2017 | Last Edited: September 8, 2017