The spread of the Zika virus has caused worldwide concern, and with it, worldwide misinformation. Gautam Aggarwal, M.D., primary care physician with HonorHealth Medical Group, offers answers to help dispel the myths circulating about this mysterious virus.
The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Concern is rising because of the rapid increase in the number of cases worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recognizes the Zika virus as causing microcephaly (small heads) and brain damage in infants born to mothers infected with the virus.
Primary transmission occurs when you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Transmission also occurs between an infected mother and a fetus in utero or at time of delivery. If you’re infected, you can also transmit the virus to your partner through sexual activity.
In adults, symptoms typically appear between two and 14 days after transmission, and can last up to a week. “It is rare for Zika to cause fatal or life threatening illness in adults,” Aggarwal points out.
Symptoms can include low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, muscle aches, headaches, weakness and eye discomfort. You could also exhibit abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and itchiness. “Only 20 to 25 percent of infected people will have symptoms,” Aggarwal says.
If you’re visiting South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands or the Caribbean this summer, there is a risk of getting infected with the Zika virus. You may become infected and not show symptoms. Aggarwal advises the best prevention option is to avoid travel to areas endemic for Zika carrying mosquitos. If you travel to an area prone to infections, stay in clean living quarters, use mosquito nets and insect repellent, and wear long sleeves and long pants. Avoid standing bodies of water, which are prime breeding grounds for mosquitos. “You can’t guarantee you won’t be bitten by an infected mosquito, but you can reduce the risk,” he emphasizes.
If you have questions about the Zika virus, contact your doctor, or find one through HonorHealth Medical Group at www.honorhealth.com.