Zika Virus You and Your Baby

Many things have been said about the Zika Virus popularly called the ZikaV.  But what is it about the ZikaV, and you and your Baby? Let us discuss it.

As a Public Health Practitioner, I have never heard about the Zika virus before its upsurge.  Recently, I have had to look at some of my occupational literature for information on the Zika Virus.  I have tried to do some research on the  Zika Virus.  I have also sought the usage of my book which is most times referred to, by persons in my discipline, as the “Public Health Bible of Communicable Diseases”.

The book of which I speak is the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, Eighteenth Edition, 2004.  (An official report of the American Public Health Association).  In this book,  I have only seen, that the ZikaV was only mentioned. In other words, there was not much about the  virus in the book.   I say all of that to say this. The fact that the Zika Virus was mentioned then, it means that it was previously known about and before now.

I have also learnt that this disease showed its presence since 1947.  Since then, it has kept a low profile until recently it is rising to prominence.   Therefore, everyone must arm self with information and work to maintain the environment in a satisfactory condition.  This effort is important  in order that the Zika Virus and other diseases may be reduced or eradicated.

How is the Zika Virus Transmitted?

The Zika virus Infection or the Zika Fever is a communicable disease which is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It is this same mosquito that causes Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and also Yellow Fever. This one type of mosquito is capable of causing more than one disease. In other words, I must refer to the Aedes aegypti as a versatile or common enemy to man.  I am not finished yet, because, the World Health Organisation (WHO) posits that it can also be transmitted sexually.

The Organisation also stated that it can be detected in blood, semen, urine, saliva, amniotic fluid (that fluid which is contained in the amniotic sac. That is the sac  in which the developing fetus stays in  the mother’s womb). Therefore, a

pregnant woman

pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her unborn child.  The virus is also found in the fluid of the brain and spinal cord.

When an Aedes aegypti mosquito bites someone with the Zika Virus, the mosquito then becomes a carrier of the virus and infects anyone else it bites.   The Zika Virus carries an incubation period of 3 to 12 days.  In other words, after you are bitten by the Zika V infected Aedes aegypti mosquito,  it takes three to twelve days to show or have any sign or symptom of the disease.

Of course there is also the likelihood of being  an asymptomatic (being infected, but does not show any sign nor symptom of the disease) case.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Zika Virus?

Some common symptoms of the virus are: Mild to severe fever, redness of the eye, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, swelling in the lower limb, rash and weakness.   These signs and symptoms may last for a period of 4 to 7 days. The infant, the elderly person and the pregnant woman are at risks for experiencing the disease more severely. If you have diseases such as Hypertension, Heart Disease, or other chronic diseases, you may also suffer from severe symptoms of the Zika Virus.

If you have any of the signs and symptoms of the Zika virus go to the doctor. Do remember that not all pain killers and fever medications are recommended to use for the Zika virus.

If a pregnant woman is infected by the Zika Virus her newborn baby is likely to be born affected by the virus. This is likely to result in a brain and nerve related illness.  The baby is also likely to have a small head referred to as being micro-

Microcephaly and Normal Head
Microcephaly and Normal Head

cephaly.   The Zika Virus may also cause death.

Women in childbearing age and if pregnant should do everything to protect  self from the Zika virus.  Remember that it is highly recommended that pregnancy be delayed until the chance of contracting the virus is at its minimal.

How Can the Aedes Aegypti Be Controlled?

The Aedes aegypti may be accurately referred to as a domesticated insect.  Why is this so? The mosquito finds its habitat in homes and near homes.  One particular lecturer while I was at public health school, (much to my disgust) would always

infected mosquito
infected mosquito

say that the Aedes mosquito is closely related to the housewife.  This sounds funny but maybe seventy percent true.  His notion for this was that much of the harbourage for the habitat of the mosquito is created by the housewife.

We will look at the means of control of the  Aedes mosquito and then you will decide if this is true. Please leave your comment on the website.

  • Keep places free of overgrown vegetation
  • Rid areas of wood stump that is hollow and may allow water to settle in it. This is  prime harbourage for mosquito to breed.
  • Check inside and outside the house for mosquito breeding areas. These areas are   most times found in chill trays of the refrigerators, catchment or water from air   conditioning units, and tyres in and around homes
  • If you have flowers in flower pots in and around the house and if water is in them, change the water every two days. Use dirt in the pots instead of water.
  • Mosquitoes may also breed in drains, especially those drains that the surfaces are   not smooth finish and these do not facilitate proper drainage.
  • In areas where there are no regular removal of refuse, bore holes in tins in order   that they cannot accommodate water
Potential for Mosquito Breeding
Potential for Mosquito Breeding
  • Rid your areas of unnecessary waste    material around the home such as old      motor cars (junks) and rubbish.
  • Fill out holes made by crabs and rats. A    programme to remove rats from  premises is quite in order. Mosquitoes  breed in rat and crab holes.
  • Cover drums tightly to prevent    mosquitoes from going into them and  breed.
  • Use mosquito nets when sleeping.
  • Use mosquito repellant that contains deet
  • Do not encourage mosquitoes to attack you, wear light coloured clothing. Dark    colored clothing attracts mosquitoes to you
  • Cover your body as much as possible

Remember, the Aedes aegypti can affect you and your baby. Your baby is depending on you to defend him/her from this infection.  Protect yourself, protect your child.   It is important to make every effort to eradicate it.

The safest way to do this is to keep the environment clean. Stop the Aedes aegypti from breeding and eradicate this nuisance.  Let us put away the Zika Virus and the other diseases that this mosquito spreads.   We can make ourselves and our babies free of these diseases.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Zika Virus You and Your Baby”

  1. Hi Pancy, Very informative article on Zika virus. I knew that it’s a communicable disease but came to know the ways of spreading only after reading this. It’s really important for all to protect themselves from mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are a big nuisance to the society. Some steps are ought to be taken to eradicate them completely for a healthy environment.

    1. Thank you for visiting. You have made a very strong statement when you said that some steps are to be taken to eradicate the mosquito by keeping the environment healthy. I do agree with you. However, this will only be possible when everyone sees the prevention and control not only as governmental but as everyone’s duty. There must be collaboration with all stakeholders.As I have previously stated, health must be seen as a social responsibility.

      I must also state that this particular mosquito usually make its habitat near where there are people. Near homes. Therefore, thus making themselves nuisance to society and also offers itself as easy prey for eradication. On the other hand, however, the lifecycle of the mosquito makes it very difficult. This is not only for the Aedes aegypti but for all mosquitoes. Nevertheless, together we all can do it, if we try.

      Thanks for visiting and for your input. Please come again.

  2. Wow,
    The Zika virus is a very scary thing to think about, I never heard of this until reading your article just now.Mosquitos seem to carry so many diseases today, why is this?

    This is a terrible virus for any lady pregnant, her child could get this virus also which is very sad.

    What about our gardens, is this a place these mosquitos might make their home as well, very scary but good to know about this virus.

    1. Hi, thanks for visiting. I must agree that the Zika virus is a scary thing. Scary too is the means by which the Aedes aegypti and other mosquitoes get their food. It is always searching for a blood meal. Food is the way of survival for every living thing. Therefore, the mosquito sucks infected blood and injects the infection in the next person it bites. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a day biting specie and does its biting several hours before sunset and two hours before sunrise. This mosquito has no prejudice and has the capabilities to spread many viral diseases.

      Gardens and forestry also serve as harbourage. I may ask a question can we destroy the gardens and the foestry because of the aedes mosquito? These are beneficial. There are some plants which serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes. These plants are able of holding water between its closely packed leaves. One of such plant is the penguin plant. It has spiky, long and slender leaves which are capable of keeping water between the packed leaves.

      We must continue public education among other things in order to minimise the effect of this vector.

      Thanks for participating and please come again.

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