The Zika Virus: What to know?!

.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/ 5284040324

.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/ 5284040324

How long has this infection been around?  The Zika virus has been in the news recently. But, it is not new.  It was first isolated from a monkey in 1947 in Uganda.  Then there was an outbreak in Micronesia in 2007.  It is when the Zika Virus arrived in the western Hemisphere in 2014 that it came “on our radar.”  The first infection in Brazil was in May 2015 and the World Health Organization declared it a public emergency of international concern February 1, 2016!

How is it transmitted?  It’s transmitted by a bite from an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.  When infected, the virus can be detected in all sorts of bodily fluids: blood, urine, semen, saliva, spinal fluid, amniotic fluid AND even breast milk.  And, transmission from mother to fetus can occur anytime during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms?  Symptoms are acute onset of low-grade fever, raised rash starting on the face and spreads to the chest, back and limbs, joint pains in the hands and feet,  and “pink eye.”  After infected, there is a 2 – 14 day incubation period.  Most symptoms resolve within 7 days.  Interestingly, the virus is only detectable in the blood for 7 days.  Once infected,  we think patients are protected from future infections.

What are the complications?  When females are pregnant and contract the infection, this can cause microcephaly (a small head in the child) and miscarriage (if within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy).  If not pregnant, the Zika infection may increase your risk of getting Guillian Barre Syndrome, which is a neurologic condition causing paralysis that starts in the feet and travels upward in the body.

How do you get tested?  You need blood work within 7 days of onset of symptoms.  The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory collects specimens and ships them to the CDC.  Call the Nevada Health Department at 775 328 2447 for consultation and approval of testing.  The Zika Virus is a reportable disease in the United States… this means if you suspect it, you need to test for it, and report any “positive” results to the CDC.

Who should be tested?  Pregnant patients who travel to an area with ongoing Zika transmission, even if they are without symptoms.  Pregnant patients living in an area with ongoing transmission.  Any patient with Zika symptoms who have traveled to an affected area within 2 weeks.  Infants born to mothers with positive or inconclusive test results for Zika.  Children with microcephaly whose mothers were in an affected area.

How to manage Zika infection?  Stay hydrated.  Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain.  Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen until Dengue Fever ruled out.

How to prevent?  Avoid mosquito bites (Stay indoors.  Wear long sleeves and pants.  Wear insect repellant with DEET or picaridin, IR 3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.)  Avoid standing water to collect so that mosquitos do not have breeding sites.  Avoid travel to Zika transmission areas if pregnant.  Do not have sex (or use condoms) during travel.  Men with a pregnant partner should not have sex (or should wear a condom) for the remainder of the pregnancy.

We anticipate a vaccine in 1-2 years.

Want more information?  Call CDC Zika Hotline 770-488-7100.

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About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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