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The Zika virus infection has prompted worldwide concern because of its rapid transmission and its alarming effects on unborn babies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has even declared a public health emergency, as it continues to spread in different countries. Here’s what you need to know about the infection and what you can do to prevent it:

What is the Zika virus?

Zika is a virus that is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito, which is also a known carrier of the Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. It is generally considered as a mild disease,  and some of those who are infected may not even develop symptoms. However, between one and ten percent of women infected during pregnancy have babies with birth defects, the most common of which is microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which a baby  is born with a much smaller head, sloping forehead and damaged brain.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Zika include a fever, an itchy rash, body aches, headache, red eyes and, occasionally, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually develop within 3 to 12 days after the mosquito bite and often last between 4 to 7 days. 

Is there a cure for Zika?

There is no Zika vaccine and no specific treatment for the disease at this time. Those infected are advised to get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain with common medicine. 

What can be done to prevent infection?

Pregnant women face the highest risk, so taking strict precautions against the infection can be crucial. Avoiding mosquito bites and any exchange of bodily fluids is a must. It is also best to postpone travel plans to areas with reported cases of Zika virus.

 

Those who feel unwell should immediately seek medical attention, especially with symptoms such as fever and rash. Those without these symptoms but who are concerned that they have been infected should follow the advice of their doctors regarding the monitoring of their pregnancy.

 

You can also get more information on the Zika virus from the Ministry of Health website: https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/pressRoom/Current_Issues/2016/zika-virus/faqs.html

 

 

References:

https://www.gov.sg/factually/content/5-things-to-know-about-zika-virus

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/impact-of-the-virus-on-unborn-babies

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