Zika Virus is gradually encroaching African soil. This is after local Mosquitoes transmission virus was reported in Cape Verde by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 8th May, 2016, there have been 7557 suspected cases of Zika in Cabo Verde. WHO general director, Margaret Chan, declared the Zika Virus a public health emergency of International Concern.
This should be a wakeup call for us to be Vigilant enough to curb this looming peril. Although this virus was first isolated from monkeys in Africa (1947), most active transmissions are found in America. It was discovered from Zika forest in Uganda hence the name Zika Virus.
Zika Virus is transmitted by infected Mosquitoes (aedes). It is also transmitted through sexual intercourse.
In most cases, it is not life threatening in adults and those infected are usually asymptomatic that is they don’t show signs of the illness immediately. This latent stage favors rapid transmission of the virus. Later on the patient presents with headache, joint pain, fever, red eyes, skin rash and fatigue.
However, Zika virus can be fatal in pregnancy. It leads to congenital neurological condition which is characterized by neonates (babies) having a small head for their age (Microcephaly). This leads to developmental defects which require specialized medical care.
This condition is also associated with another Neurological condition which is known Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). It presents with paralysis of both legs and arms. It may weaken breathing muscles in severe cases.
It is diagnosed through examination of the blood in the lab. Relevant authority should be notified whenever there is suspicion of this disease in order to contain an outbreak.
Treatment is aimed at making the patient comfortable by alleviating suffering. This involves bed rest and pain relievers. Psychological care is also core in recovery due to the fact that this condition falls under the class of diseases that are of international concern. Patient may develop anxiety which may delay recuperation.
The most effective way of preventing this condition is by controlling Mosquitoes’ bites which play a very big role in the transmission cycle. The following measures should be adhered to:
- One should always sleep under treated mosquitoes net.
- Windows should be fitted with mesh to keep Mosquitoes away.
- All breeding points which include bushy compound and stagnant water should be destroyed.
Zika Virus is yet to have a vaccine. Travelers should adhere to measures that have been mentioned above. They should also avoid risky sexual behaviours.
Author is a Registered Nurse