Early symptoms of zika virus

 It has been making the headlines, so why not take a moment to examine the early symptoms of zika virus? The signs of this mosquito-borne disease resemble those of dengue and chikungunya – and as a result it may be misdiagnosed as such – , tend to be mild, and last only a few days. One in 5 people infected show symptoms, which include the following:

·         Low grade fever (less than 38.5 C).

·         Rash.

·         Joint pain.

·         Conjunctivitis.

·         Muscle pain.

·         Joint pain with possible swelling.

·         Headache.

·         Pain behind the eyes.

·         Vomiting.

Humans contract the zika virus through the bite of an Aedes mosquito that has previously fed on an already infected person. This species of mosquito lives around buildings in urban areas, and lays eggs in and near standing water in buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots, vases, and other receptacles. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters of people, with peak biting activity occurring early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Other possible but rare avenues of transmission include an already infected mother passing on the virus to her newborn, and theoretically through blood transfusion – though there have been no known reports of this occurrence. There have not been reports of infants contracting the virus through breastfeeding, but there has been one report of possible transmission through sexual contact.

Preliminary diagnosis is based on the patient’s places and dates of travel, and activities. Outbreaks of zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Cases have also been reported in Brazil and Puerto Rico. Additionally, cases of returning travelers have been reported in the United States. The incubation period of the zika virus is about 3-12 days. Saliva or urine samples collected during the first 3-5 days after the onset of symptoms, or serum collected in the first 1-3 days, are suitable for detecting the virus. There are no vaccine or antiviral drugs to treat this virus; therefore, treatment revolves around relieving the symptoms as follows:

·         Getting plenty of rest.

·         Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.

·         Taking acetaminophen or paracetamol to manage fever and pain.

·         Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out, in order to decrease the risk of hemorrhage.

 The key to prevent the transmission of the zika virus is to protect oneself from mosquito bites and, failing that, take measures to protect others from contracting the disease.

Zika virus prevention

Mosquito bites

·         Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.

·         Some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.

·         If using sunscreen and repellent, apply the former first and the latter last.

·         Do not spray repellent on skin covered by clothing.

·         Follow label instructions when using repellent or sunscreen.

·         Weather permitting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

·         Air conditioning or window/door screens keep mosquitoes outside.

·         Sleep under a mosquito net bed.

·         Empty standing water from containers once a week.

·         Use screens on windows and doors.

Protecting others if you have zika

·         The virus can be found in the blood and passed from one infected person to another mosquito, which can then infect a healthy person. Avoid mosquito bites during the first week of infection.


Related: Early symptoms of dengue