• Women of child bearing age whether pregnant or not, have been told to avoid countries where the Zika virus has been circulating, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned.

    You see, Zika, a new mosquito-borne virus is prompting worldwide concern because of the alarming connection to neurological birth disorder associated with it. It is alarmingly spreading fast across the globe. 

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the symptoms of Zika Virus is similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. The symptoms are usually mild and last 2-7 days.

    Most of the affected countries include those in the Caribbean, North and South America. There are more than 21 countries in these areas that have exuded characteristics of the virus and children born with abnormally small heads (microcephaly), and associated with incomplete brain development.

    Brazil is worst hit by the virus and women have been urged to delay getting pregnant until a solution is found. The virus was first detected in Brazil in May 2015 and has rapidly spread to neighboring countries.

    Transmission

    The virus is brought to people through a bite from an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. WHO argues that this is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

    For the virus to be transmitted it needs a vector. As of now, mosquito is the vector. But there have been isolated cases where the virus was found in semen but it is yet to be verified if the virus can be transmitted from one person to another sexually. What is known is that the virus can be transmitted through blood.

    Can it be transmitted from mother to child?

    There is little information concerning the transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Other vector-borne viruses like dengue and chikungunya have been found to affect babies through mothers (Perinatal transmission).

    Studies are being conducted to see if the virus has possible mother-to-child transmission.

    WHO anticipates that the virus will spread to all but two countries in two countries in South, Central and North America.

    There is no treatment or vaccine available for Zika yet.

    People need to invest in control measures like keeping away from mosquitos by applying repellants and using mosquito nets among other measures.

    The deadly virus was first detected in the tropical Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys.

    What happens to the 2016 Games in Rio?

    Apart from the inspection that Phil Wilkinson said will be carried out on daily basis on the Brazil Olympic and Paralympic venues, the games will take place during the winter months of August and September. The climate during this period will not be conducive enough for mosquitoes.