Zika Virus is Vector-borne Flavivirus
Zika virus is vector-borne flavivirus originally identified in the Uganda in 1947(“Zika virus”, n.d). The virus is readily transmitted from the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The mosquito typically takes its blood meal during the daytime, making humans the most vulnerable to susceptibility during this time (“Zika virus”, n.d). Zika virus is linked to the cause of microcephaly, which affects infants. Acquiring the disease while pregnant is detrimental causing congenital deformities in the developing fetus (“Microcephaly”, 2018). Microcephaly is a rare congenital neurological condition where an infant’s cranium is drastically smaller than the cranium of other infants of similar age and sex (“Microcephaly”, 2018). The drastically smaller head is usually the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing sufficiently after birth (“Microcephaly”, 2018). This can lead to preterm birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage (“Zika virus”, n.d). Children who are affected by this genetic defect often have developmental problems that can range from minor to severe. Some symptoms associated with the defect are speech or movement delays, balance and coordination difficulties, dwarfism, facial distortions, hyperactivity, intellectual disabilities, and seizures (“Microcephaly”, 2018). Unfortunately, if diagnosed with microcephaly, this is a lifelong disease. As of today, there is no associated treatment or cure for the congenital defect; however, if diagnosed early, parents can enroll their infant in early intervention to help assist with the delayed developments in the child (“Overview of Early Intervention”, n.d). Zika can be transmitted through sexual transmission, blood transfusions, and through the placenta of a pregnant woman; however, symptoms of the infected individual tend to be asymptomatic or mild in most cases (“Zika virus”, n.d). The symptoms most commonly associated with the disease are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis and muscle pain (“Zika virus”, n.d). The symptoms can last anywhere from days up to several weeks. Since the symptoms aren’t severe, most people don’t realize that they have been affected, causing the disease to be more widespread. Zika is more prone to humid tropical and subtropical areas such as South America, where the Aedes mosquito resides in this favorable environment.
During September 2015, there was an epidemic of the Zika virus in Columbia, South America (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Between the time span of September 2015 through May 2017, approximately 107,870 cases of Zika were reported (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Out of total amount of cases reported, 20,000 were suspected to be pregnant women (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017); however, microcephaly accounted for 157 of the confirmed cases in newborn infants (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). A case of microcephaly was presented in a 34-year-old mother carrying an infant of 19 weeks in the Colombian Caribbean (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was used to detect Zika in the placenta (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). The mother had symptoms compatible with the rash associated with the Zika virus. Laboratory tests indicated no signs of immunodeficiency, and the mother tested negative for other various active infections; however, IgM antibodies were detected in the mother’s serum (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Between 16-32 weeks of congestion, ultrasounds were taken that confirmed microcephaly with the diagnosis of an irregularly small cerebellum (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). The infant now 9 months old displays signs of frail muscle tone in the neck, recurring neurological cries, neurological impairment and repetitive respiratory infections (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). The symptoms currently displayed by the infant along with the small cerebellum correlate to delayed developmental problems that infants with microcephaly display (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Unfortunately, research shows that the number of fetal microcephaly will progress in the Columbia area. Studies and further research indicate that there aren’t any successful drugs currently on the market to effectively prevent the transmission of Zika; however, in an effort to regulate the transmission in Columbia, early and low-cost serodiagnosis are being used to avoid unforeseen major infective concerns in the area (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). A problem still presumes since serological diagnosis of Zika virus infections are challenging due to high cross-reactivity between other viruses (Mattar,Ojeda,& Arboleda, 2017). Pregnant women are being asked to practice safe sex while carrying or refraining from sex altogether until the baby is carried to full term.
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How it works
Zika is a vector borne virus carried by the Aedes mosquito species. The Aedes mosquito typically breeds within range of standing water. Being in an environment favorable to the vector during the daytime can be the cause of acquiring the disease from an infected mosquito. A female mosquito tends to lay their eggs in containers that hold standing water. Within a few days to months, the eggs are engulfed by water causing them to hatch and transform into the larval stage. The larval stage tends to live in water and readily develops into a pupil within a time span of five days. Within two to three days, the pupae develops into an adult mosquito, which is the vector of the Zika virus. If humans tend to be in a favorable environment of the mosquito, they are typically bitten and infected. Transmission of the virus is easily spread through sexual transmission, blood transfusions, and readily passed from mother to fetus in an impregnated woman. This virus is considered serious since victims of the virus are typically asymptomatic showing little to no signs of being infected by the virus.
In conclusion, as of 2018 there have been no local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission reported in the United States; however, if one plans on traveling outside of the United States, one should take the necessary preliminary precautions of protecting both self and family members by reviewing the map areas associated with the risk of Zika and packing the necessary items to ensure that the infection won’t be transmitted. An insect repellent as well as long-sleeved shirts and long pants in combination are helpful in preventing the virus (“Zika Virus”, 2017). If you live in an area where the Aedes mosquito resides in the area, make sure to use both door and window screens to prevent the mosquitos from migrating inside the house (“Zika Virus”, 2017). In an effort to keep mosquito from outside the house, make sure to dump any form of standing water within the vicinity (“Zika Virus”, 2017). When traveling outside the United States, it is best to have a mosquito net if one plans to sleep outside or lodge in an area that doesn’t have central air conditioning (“Zika Virus”, 2017).