The Zika Virus is officially the newest health scare. But unlike some sensationalized cases, this one deserves extra attention. This blog post will look at what the virus is, major virus symptoms, who is most susceptible and what actions to take in case you experience symptoms. Plus, we’ll provide an update on the Zika virus vaccine.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, it seems the Zika virus is everywhere. President Obama just requested over $1 billion from Congress to combat the spread of the virus. The funds would be used to bolster mosquito control methods, including nets and mosquito population control. With the Rio Olympics approaching in South America, Zika virus fears have spread to the international athletes and their families, who are presumably preparing to enter a “hot zone” for the virus. Just recently, U.S. athletes were urged to skip the Olympic Games entirely. Current projections from health experts have the virus running rampant through North America sometime later this year. Consequently, there is a significant initiative underway to find a vaccine for the virus. Some people think a Zika vaccine would receive just as much praise as last century’s polio vaccine. The hunt is on to find a present-day Jonas Salk.
Zika Virus 101
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus. It may also be a sexually transmitted disease, too (pending further research). As many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. The origin of the virus appears to be French Polynesia, which came to Brazil during the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament. The principal panic surrounding Zika is not necessarily from the symptoms (see below), but rather infant microcephaly, a severe neuro disorder in developing babies. Some of the effects of microcephaly include shortened lifespan, decreased skull size, stunted mental development, birth defects, speech problems and more.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Zika virus symptoms are similar to some flu symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common Zika symptoms include:
- Swollen and painful joints
- Muscle pain
- Nausea (sickness)
Symptoms generally last anywhere from a few days to a week. If you experience symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. Acetaminophen can lessen the fever and pain associated with the Zika virus.
Who is Affected?
Like most diseases, viruses and illnesses, certain people are more susceptible to the Zika virus than others. The elderly, sick and young children are vulnerable to the Zika virus. However, since Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites, any person traveling through a known infected area can become ill with the virus. For an updated list of areas in the United States with the virus, visit the CDC website.
In rare instances, pregnant women have given birth to babies with microcephaly and other severe abnormalities.
There is no vaccine for the Zika virus yet, although a considerable push in the medical research industry is underway.
Banner Urgent Care will continue to closely monitor the spread of the Zika virus, along with other healthcare professionals in the United States and around the world. If you think you may be infected with the virus, you can visit one of our walk-in urgent care clinics in Arizona and Nevada. To date, there have been no official cases of the Zika virus in either state.
If you have additional questions or would like more information, please call us at (480) 988-9108.