Zika Virus


According to Hayes (2011), Zika virus is a flavivirus almost similarto Japanese encephalitis virus and yellow fever. The virus was firstdiscovered in Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947. It was discovered in amonkey named Rhesus 766 that was being used by the Rockefellerfoundation’s program as a sentinel animal to monitor the jungleyellow fever(Hayes, 2011). Since its discovery in 1947, severalcases of the virus have been reported, particularly in Pacific Islandand tropical Africa. The first time the virus was detected outsideAfrica was in 2007 when it triggered an outbreak of a significantlymild disease whose symptoms included arthralgia and conjunctivitis inYapa Island located in the Pacific Ocean (Hayes, 2011).

The mode of transmission of the virus is through mosquito bites,sexual intercourse, and mother-to-fetus (Center for Disease Controland Prevention, 2016). Most persons with the Zika virus do not showany symptoms while others only experience mild signs. However, thecommon symptoms of Zika virus include joint pain, fever, rash, andconjunctivitis (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Aperson may also experience headaches and muscle pain. An individualwith Zika virus may experience the above symptoms for several days ora week.

The diagnosis of Zika virus involves the assessments of anindividual’s symptoms, test results, and travel history. A urine orblood test is used to confirm whether or not a person has the virus.Upon the confirmation that a person has Zika virus, he/she personshould ensure that he/she gets enough rest and drink much fluids toavoid dehydration. Currently, there is neither medicine nor vaccinefor the virus. However, medicines such as acetaminophen have provedeffective in reducing fever and pain in patients with Zika virus(Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).

The most effective methods that a person can use to protecthim/herself against getting infected with Zika virus include the useof mosquito nets and insect repellent. Other methods include wearinglong pants and long-sleeved shirts. Also, a person can treat his/herclothes with permethrin. The use of a condom or abstaining from sexis another way of protecting oneself from Zika virus (Center forDisease Control and Prevention, 2016).

The infection of the fetus with Zika virus can result in certaincongenital disabilities. According toRasmussen et al., (2016), prenatal Zika virus hasadverse birth outcomes. Such outcomes include microcephaly, hearingdefects, impaired growth, and defects of the eye. Since the viruswas first discovered in Brazil in early 2015, the number of childrenwith Microcephaly in the country has increased significantly. According to the Brazil Ministry of Health records, 11 out of 35infants with microcephaly had redundant and excessive scalp skin(Rasmussen et al., 2016). Rasmussenet al., (2016) report about a case where a woman whotraveled for seven days to Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala during the11th week of her gestation tested positive for the virusfour weeks later. Once magnetic resonance imaging and fetaultrasonography were performed at 19-20 weeks of gestation, the fetuswas diagnosed with severe brain impairments. Also, the test revealedthat microcephaly was in its initial status as the head circumferenceof the fetus was reduced from the 47th percentile to 24thpercentile at 16th week and 20th week ofgestation respectively.

In conclusion, Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in Zika Forest inUganda. It is spread through mosquito bites, sexual intercourse, andmother-to-fetus. Currently, it has neither a vaccine nor medicine.Thus, preventive measures are paramount, and they entail wearingtreated clothes and use of mosquito nets and insect repellents. Also,using a condom or abstaining from sex protects a person from gettinginfected with the virus. The virus has severe effects on an unbornchild since it results in microcephaly and other birth abnormalities.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). “Zika virus.”Accessed on November 6, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/

Hayes, E. B.(2011). “Zika virus outside Africa.”Accessed on November 6, 2016.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819875/

Rasmussen, S.A., Jamieson, D. J., Honein, M. A., &amp Petersen, L. R. (2016).“Zika virus and birth defects—reviewing the evidence forcausality.”Accessed on November 6, 2016. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1604338#t=article