The Zika virus is a carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. If an individual was bitten by this type of mosquito, he/she can become infected by the Zika virus. In most individuals, this triggers a very mild illness but one might not be even aware of acquiring the virus.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito usually bites during daytime. The virus was initially discovered in 1947 in Africa but it was only in 2015 when the Zika virus spread to many countries usually those that have warm climates.
How can I become infected by the Zika virus?
One can acquire the Zika virus if travelling to a country where there have been reported cases of the infection and bitten by an infected mosquito.
Generally, the infection is due to a mosquito bite. Nevertheless, there are other ways in which one can become infected such as:
- Blood donation from an individual infected by the Zika virus
- Sexual contact with an infected individual
- Via the placenta where it is possible for pregnant mothers can pass the virus on to babies in the womb
In most cases, the condition is relatively mild. Most individuals do not have any symptoms at all and not aware that they have the virus. In case symptoms occur, they usually manifest 3-12 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. The symptoms might include the following:
- Itchy rash
- Muscle and joint pain
- Painful or red, itchy eyes
- Tiredness and weakness
Other uncommon symptoms that have been reported include swollen legs and stomach upset. The symptoms usually last for a few days.
A blood test is performed to confirm if an individual has the Zika virus. Among pregnant women, urine testing is also performed.
Generally, treatment is not required. If the individual experiences fever or headache as well as aches or pains, pain medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be given. Among pregnant women, extra check-ups and testing are required.