The Zika Virus

The Zika Virus

How is the Zika virus transmitted?
Zika is transmitted mainly by the Aedes mosquito. This means that if a Zika-infected person is bitten by this mosquito, then the Zika virus may be transmitted to the next person who is bitten by this mosquito.
There appears to be a small chance that the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually, too.

Where are these mosquitoes found? Where is the Zika virus?

This Aedes mosquito is found in hot climates - such as Africa and South America - so the Zika virus is in theory limited to these areas. Brazil is the main country affected thus far, with cases being reported in the many other South American countries, as well as the Caribbean and Mexico.
 
Unlike the mosquito responsible for malaria transmission (the Anopheles mosquito), which is most active at night, the Zika-transmitting Aedes mosquito is most active during the day. This means that although bed-nets are an effective way of preventing malaria transmission, this is not practical for preventing Zika transmission.
 
The Zika virus outbreak, however, is currently localised just to the Americas. It began in Brazil in early 2015, and has since spread to other parts of South and North America. 
 

How do I know if I am currently infected with Zika?

It's estimated that 80% of Zika virus infections are asymptomatic, and the virus may pass unnoticed.
However, in the 20% of symptomatic cases, Zika virus symptoms last from 2-7 days, and may include:
* Mild fever
* Skin rash
* Conjunctivitis
* Muscle and Joint pain
* Malaise or Headache

How do you treat a Zika virus infection?
The body is usually able to fight off the virus itself - no special treatment or medication is necessary.

So what's the big concern?

The most serious consequence of the Zika virus is its strongly suggested effect on unborn babies: a serious birth defect called Microcephaly. This is where babies are born with a significantly smaller head size, often due to the slowed development of the brain.
In Brazil, there were less than 150 microcephaly cases in 2014, whereas in since October 2015 there have been nearly 5,000 reported cases.

Should I be concerned?

If you haven't recently visited a Zika-affected country, and have no immediate plans to - don't worry! So far, scientists think it's only transmissible via mosquitoes and in some cases, by sexual intercourse. Since this specific type of mosquito doesn't exist in the UK, even if you're in close (non-sexual!) contact with a recent visitor to Brazil who may have been Zika-infected, it's effectively impossible to catch it from them.
It's recommended to take extra precautions, if your sexual partner has recently visited a Zika-affected country, for one month. If you do plan to visit South America, try to avoid mosquitoes: wear long-sleeved clothes, use insect repellent, and keep windows and doors shut.
If you're a pregnant woman, or trying to conceive, it's advised not to travel to the affected areas at all.


I've recently been to a Zika-affected area. How do I know if I have it?!
If you're at all concerned that you've contracted Zika virus, we at London Doctors Clinic offer a couple of different blood tests that may help to give you peace of mind.

The first is a PCR test for the virus, which is suitable for anyone who has visited a Zika-affected area within the last seven days, to see if they still carry the virus. This costs £360 in total, including the GP consultation.
The second is a test for Zika antibodies, which is suitable for anyone who are over 21 days post-exposure. This test and GP consultation will costs just £191.

All results should be back within 1-2 weeks, and any follow-up consultation is completely free of charge.
Click here for more information on our Zika Virus tests.

It's a small price to pay, for peace of mind.

 

Click here for a Zika Virus Update

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