Zika infection – Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

The first cases of the Zika virus was reported from Miami, Florida, and in Brownsville, Texas.

The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda, back in 1947. The virus is transmitted through the Aedes mosquito. It is the same species of mosquito that causes dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya. The Zika outbreaks did not occur until 2007, when it spread to the South Pacific.

It is very difficult to detect Zika symptoms in the early stages because more than 70 percent of the patients that were infected with the Zika virus had very little or no signs and symptoms of the same.

However, following are some of the Zika symptoms that you should be aware of in case there is an outbreak in your area.

  • A person suffering from the Zika infection might experience a flat or raised, itchy skin rash.
  • As it is with every viral infection, Zika virus causes chills and sweating which is followed by fever.
  • The person might also experience gastrointestinal discomfort (although less frequently) with vomiting and might also experience vision problems such as pain in the back portion of the eye, which is medically termed as retro-orbital pain.
  • Other than the above-mentioned symptoms, the person might also experience muscle pain and headaches with conjunctivitis.

Zika virus and pregnancy
Zika virus causes birth defects in babies if the mother is infected with the virus. The babies suffering from the Zika virus infection might suffer from microcephaly which causes underdeveloped heads and brain damage. In addition to microcephaly, there have been reports where infants developed a range of vision defects. Pregnant women who are in their second trimester should strictly avoid mosquito bites, especially if they live in places where the virus is prevalent.

Ways to diagnose the Zika infection
To diagnose Zika symptoms, healthcare professionals will begin with going through your medical history and conducting physical examination. The patient needs to tell the healthcare provider about their recent place of travel where the Zika virus might have been active. If Zika symptoms or infection is suspected, CDC blood tests are likely to be conducted which will help in differentiating similar symptoms that occur in dengue fever and chikungunya infections.

Treatments for the Zika infection
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Zika symptoms; however, you can follow these steps

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Medicines such as acetaminophen might help reduce fever and pain in the muscles.
  • If a person suffering from the Zika infection is already on another medication, it is important that they consult with a healthcare provider before opting for additional alternate medication.
  • To reduce the risk of bleeding, avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The Zika virus remains in the blood of an infected person for at least a week. Consult your doctor or seek help from a health care provider as soon as you notice Zika symptoms. The upside, however, to this is that once a person has been infected from the virus, they are protected from future Zika infections. Currently, there is no vaccination to keep Zika symptoms at bay. However, medical researchers and scientists are working to create a vaccine, but it’s likely to be years that a Zika vaccination would be made available.