Marilla Lima had Zika virus while pregnant. Her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, has microcephaly — a birth defect characterized by a small head and severe brain damage.
Zika is a disease caused by Zika Virus that is caused by a bite of an infected mosquito. Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika forest in Uganda. In 1952,most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
A group of Brazilian doctors found a link between Zika and the rising number of babies born with microcephaly in the their country. Microcephaly refers to abnormally small head for newborn babies; it may lead to development delays and often comes with other development problems like sight and other congenital diseases.
Laboratory tests found that Zika targeted key cells involved in brain development in the womb and then destroyed or disabled them, they said. Another research shows that Zika may cause Guillain-Barre, a rare condition in which the body’s immune system attacks a part of the nervous system that controls muscle strength.
Usually, the Zika virus disease is relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People affected with the Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, medical care and advice should be sought immediately.
As of 2016, no vaccine, preventative drug or specific treatment is available. But work is underway towards developing a vaccine for the Zika virus. However, scientists say it may take several years before the vaccine could be rolled out. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
Unlike Ebola, Zika does not spread from person to person, has a low mortality, and does not kill healthcare workers. Therefore, it warrants a different response, according to a commentary published Friday by a British think tank Chatham House.
Although some lessons from the Ebola outbreak can be applied, the recent spread of the Zika virus presents a different challenge and needs a different response, said the authors of the commentary.