First sign of the Zika virus was in the 1940s in African countries such as Sierra Leone, Uganda and Tanzania. Throughout the years the deadly virus has spread to other continents like Asia. Affecting those in India and Thailand.
Recent discoveries in 2015 of the virus having attacked those in South America caused the WHO (World Health Organization) to send out warnings about the disease and the possible impact it could have on the future generations. The first case of the Zika virus during April 2015 in Brazil. There has been a continuous increase of cases since then but Dr. Cortes says that the disease’s symptoms are not that serious and that there is a cure so the disease is manageable. He also states that what has doctors extremely worried is that the Zika virus has links to microcephaly and possibly Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Dr. Sergio Cortes says that Guillain-Barré syndrome is a very serious neurological and auto immune disease. The link between Guillain-Barré syndrome and the Zika virus was discovered in August by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. They came to this conclusion when they noticed that areas with severe microcephaly had also been hit with outbreaks of the Zika virus.
The Zika virus is not contagious so it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. However, it can be transmitted through a mosquito. These mosquito bites are also cause for dengue fever and the chikungunya virus. Dr. Cortes states that even though the Zika virus is completely manageable and curable the cause for such outbreaks is because a mosquito bites someone who has the Zika virus and thus becomes contaminated and creates a chain reaction of infected that makes it difficult to get under control.
This specific mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, will lay its eggs in clean water so any location with standing water is a prime breeding ground. Dr. Cortes points out that even bottle caps filled with water would be good breeding grounds for this type of mosquito.
He also states that even though any type or body of water will do that the Aedes aegypti’s eggs will adapt to any climate they are given. He cites a recent study that shows the Aedes aegypti’s eggs laying dormant in a dry area for up to a year before coming into contact with any water.
Symptoms of the Zika virus are mild and can disappear within a week of no medication. Dr. Cortes says that symptoms always vary from person to person but that they are usually fever, rash, and muscle aches. Since the virus is new there is no sure way to tell or identify any patterns to the disease. All diagnosing must be done through a thorough exam at either the Evandro Chagas Institute or one of the three Fiocruz units. Dr. Cortes is adamant about seeking a doctor even if the symptoms are mild or hardly show.
There is no specific treatment to cure the disease, only to alleviate the symptoms present. People who have been infected can use anti-inflammatory and pain killers (under observation). Dr. Cortes mentions that aspirin should be avoided since it has a acetylsalicylic acid that acts as an anticoagulant and this may prove deadly should the person start bleeding.
Dr. Cortes and the Ministry of Health of Brazil are taking extreme caution when it comes to pregnant women. They are advising them of the severe possibility of microcephaly should they come in contact with the Zika virus. They are advising pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant to avoid certain areas at certain times of the day and avoiding specific places that might be heavily populated with mosquitoes. They also ask that women use repellants, mosquito nets, and try to wear clothes that cover most of the body.
Dr. Cortes also advises that prenatal monitoring should be sought after at the fourth month of pregnancy and that prenatal care helps reduce the risk of contracting the Zika virus.
Dr. Cortes has confirmed that Brazil is undergoing an epidemic of the Zika virus as of early 2015. The Ministry of Health and the WHO are working closely together to find out more about the disease. Northeastern side of Brazil has been the most highly affected by the Zika virus. They have already one infant fall victim to microcephaly and two adults. There are more than 1200 cases of Zika virus infection spanning 300 cities.
The Minitsry of Health is working on how the virus affects the fetus while still in the womb. Once there is more known about the virus it will be very possible to create a cure that can save fetuses affected in utero. Dr. Cortes reminds us that while there is no cure it is best to stay away from standing areas of water and educate family and friends about symptoms of the virus.
While on the hunt for a cure for the Zika virus prevention is key. If outdoors, stay away from any stagnant bodies of water. Indoors, immediately remove any still bodies of water, use protective screens on windows and doors. If there are mosquitos found in an area that you have no access to then Dr. Cortes suggests contacting the Municipal Health Department.