Zika Virus – Symptoms and Risks

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

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One of the most frightening outbreaks of disease in recent years has come in the form of the Zika virus. So it’s becoming even more important to understand everything about this disease.

What is Zika Virus?

The name “Zika” is derived from the Zika forest in Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in the 1940s. The virus is closely related to dengue fever and West Nile Virus, both in its symptoms and its method of transmission. The virus, scientifically speaking, is in the Flavivirus genus, and is spread by mosquitoes in the Aedes genus, which are commonly found in subtropical regions. Mosquitoes bite an infected person and then infect the next 1-5 people in the same “blood meal”. Zika virus can also be transferred through sexual activity, although this is a less common means of transmission. This virus was largely unknown outside of the equatorial belt of Africa until roughly 2007.

For people that have been infected with the Zika virus, sometimes the symptoms are mild or nonexistent, but the virus can be passed from mother to unborn baby, often resulting in brain damage, microcephaly, and other birth defects. This is where the real terror of Zika virus comes in.

The first way to avoid Zika virus is to stay away from subtropical areas of the world where known outbreaks have occurred. If you are planning those sorts of trips, it would be highly unwise to do if you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant in the near future. Also, in order to provide your doctor with a full medical history, it is essential that you can recognize the symptoms of Zika, even if they are mild.

An illustration of the zika virus spread in blood

Zika Virus Symptoms

As mentioned, Zika virus usually presents itself like a mild form of dengue fever, but at other times, the symptoms can be more severe. At some point within the first two weeks of being infected, you may present with some of the following symptoms.

  • Mild rash
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fever
  • Conjunctivitis

These symptoms are easy to mistake for other conditions, but if you are in a high-risk area and begin to show these symptoms without a clear alternative explanation or diagnosis, it might be in your best interest to seek out the advice of a doctor. Those women who were diagnosed or have the risk of being exposed should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to conceive, whereas men should wait upwards of six months, as the virus can persist for long periods in the semen.

Remember, there is no medication or vaccine that can protect against Zika. Once you have been exposed, or if you’re pregnant and have become infected, the results can be terrible.

Prevention is Key!

However, if you do happen to be diagnosed with Zika virus, there are some important natural remedies to consider. Use of papaya, vitamin C, hydrogen peroxide, curcumin, Echinacea, cat’s claw, zinc, selenium, and Chinese skullcap may help in relieving symptoms associated with Zika virus infection.

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About the Author

Vanya Sharma handles the medical expert collaboration for Organic Facts. She is also responsible for the website’s monthly newsletter and website content and contributes to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube regularly. A writer at heart, she joined the website while she was still pursuing her English Literature degree from IGNOU, Delhi, India. Vanya has completed the “Introduction to Food and Health” certificate program from Stanford University, US. She aims to bring unbiased and helpful information to all those seeking to make their health and lifestyle a priority.

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