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Zika Virus

Published on Aug 02, 2021 and last reviewed on Aug 10, 2022   -  4 min read


Zika virus cases are now reportedly on the rise in a few Indian states like Kerala and Karnataka. The transmission takes place through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Though the symptoms of Zika virus can be milder compared to COVID infection, read the article to know the symptoms, prevention, and management of Zika virus.


How Does the Zika Virus Spread?

According to the center for disease and prevention control (CDC), the Zika virus is a viral pathogen that spreads through the bite of infected Aedes mosquito species, i.e., Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The mosquitoes spread the Zika virus bite both in the day and night times. The symptoms of this infection are also very mild or sometimes even asymptomatic.

It may also be a part of the viral life cycle of this pathogen that the person infected once with the Zika virus may transfer the infection to another mosquito (humans acting as a carrier) that in turn gets infected and spreads the infection to other people by the bite. Monsoon makes the Aedes mosquito vectors a particularly favorable season to proliferate. That is the main reason why surveillance should be carried out in rural as well as urban areas across all the Indian states, particularly in Kerala and Karnataka as of now.

What Are the Symptoms of the Zika Virus?

The incubation period of Zika virus asper the WHO is between 3 to 14 days, with the symptoms lasting anywhere between the 2nd to the 7th day. The mains symptoms present in an individual affected by the Zika virus are:

What Are the Complications of the Zika Virus?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), individuals affected by Zika rarely notice any observable symptoms enough to be hospitalized. Death due to Zika is also rare, as per the CDC. But the complications of this viral infection are definitely fatal as it can pass from the mother to the fetus in pregnancy and can also pass via sexual transmission.

  1. For pregnant women infected by Zika, the transmission of the viral pathogen to the fetus can cause microcephaly (the baby's head is smaller in size compared to other babies) and other birth defects or preterm or stillbirth.

  2. The possibility of Zika spreading through blood transfusions are very likely, according to the CDC, but not evidential or confirmed till now.

  3. The infection also has a neurological impact on children and young adults (increased reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an uncommon disease of the nervous system, neuropathy).

Epidemiologists and Public health experts say that the Zika virus does not usually transmit through contact or droplets (aerosols and air). All viruses also usually undergo multiple mutations to keep multiplying, so it is safer to follow appropriate COVID behavior in these times to be prepared to face the different viral mutants in the environment.

What Are the Preventive Measures Against Zika Virus?

The best way to prevent disease transmission is by being aware of the pathogenesis and how the virus spreads (i.e., by a bite from an infected mosquito, sexual transmission from an infected person, or from an infected mother to the fetus) and by following appropriate COVID behavior. However, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection.

  1. Take steps firstly to control mosquitoes both inside and outside your house.

  2. Keep the windows and door screens preferably closed if you suspect places contaminated by mosquitoes outside your house.

  3. Wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants preferably.

  4. If homes or rooms are not air-conditioned or if you are sleeping outdoors, then sleep under mosquito bed nets only.

  5. Treat the clothing and your gear with permethrin, or buy only pretreated items.

  6. Use insect repellants but only those that are registered under the EPA (environmental protection agency) and follow the product label instructions and safety guidelines.

  7. In the case of young babies or infants, mosquito netting can be used to cover them in their cribs, strollers, or carriers, so the baby is protected from mosquito bites.

  8. Sexual contact with an infected person should be avoided or prevented.

Other than following these common preventive measures, the waste management authorities, local bodies, and citizens can make an impact to prevent the spread of Zika from a community point of view in the times where COVID infections worsen the possibility of an individual's health status.

  1. Public body responsibility or local authorities should collect samples from the suspected cases and send them to the institutes of virology or the respective laboratories for testing and surveillance in rural and urban areas.

  2. In pregnant women, the serum samples should be sent for lab tests if microcephaly of the fetus is detected in ultrasound scanning.

  3. Solid wastes should never be disposed of in domestic or residential areas either by the waste management authorities or responsible citizens as it will be a breeding ground in monsoon times for Aedes mosquitoes.

  4. Biologic control at the household, community levels are of utmost importance by vector management surveillance of mosquito larvae by the local waste management body or authorities.

How Is the Zika Virus Infection Managed?

As there is no specific management or treatment line for a person infected by Zika, the first thing to do if you suspect an infection in yourself or your family members would be to report to a physician and follow their line of management or strategy as indicated individually.

  1. The physician or healthcare provider can be contacted further for additional medications and supplements to boost your immune system.

  2. Acetaminophen is usually given for relieving fever and pain. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or Aspirin should never be taken for Zika virus treatment. Always confer with your physician or healthcare provider about the appropriate medication (in case your physician suspects you have a dengue infection).

  3. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest.


Zika virus infection in a COVID scenario is definitely a cause of major concern. Zika virus infection contracted via the bite of Aedes mosquitoes is considered non-fatal and also not life-threatening. It does not usually require hospitalization unless the symptoms of the infection worsen. However, the complications posed in pregnant women, young adults, and infants are risky to live, and preventive measures to control the Zika virus infection on an individual, family, and community basis is the need of the hour.


Frequently Asked Questions


How Does Zika Virus Get Transmitted?

Zika virus infection spreads to humans through infected Aedes aegypti mosquito bites. It also transmits from infected pregnant mother to the unborn baby and through sexual intercourse from infected sexual partners.


What Happens if You Get Infected With Zika Virus?

Though most people do not experience any symptoms, it causes rash, joint pain, fever, muscle pain, headache, and conjunctivitis in some people. Rarely Zika can lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome resulting in partial or complete paralysis.


Is Zika a Threat Even Now?

Zika virus disease is still a threat. No vaccines or medicines have been developed. Some vaccines are only under research. Corresponding to the breeding seasons of mosquitoes, the risk of Zika infection increases.


How to Identify a Zika Bite?

Zika bites are not different from regular mosquito bites. Both look the same.


How Long Does Zika Infection Stay In Our Body?

Though recovery from Zika virus disease happens within a week or two, the Zika virus was found in bodily fluids for up to three months.


Will Zika Virus Permanently Stay In Our Body?

Zika virus does not stay in the body permanently after infection. The body’s immune system will ward off the infection within one or two weeks.


Who Is at Risk to Contract a Zika Virus Infection?

- People living in or traveling to tropical and subtropical regions like Pacific islands, West Africa, parts of America, Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
- People having unprotected sex with an infected partner.
- Babies born to infected mothers.


Which Parts of the World Are Prone to Zika Virus?

- Pacific islands.
- Africa.
- Southeast Asia.
- The Caribbean.
- Central, South, and North America.


Are Zika Viruses Still Causing Birth Defects?

Pregnant women with Zika virus infection have a high risk of infection transmission to their babies, thereby causing birth defects, but this does not necessarily mean that every Zika infected pregnant woman will have miscarriage, stillbirth, or give birth to babies with congenital disabilities.


How Does Zika Virus Affect Pregnant Women?

Zika virus disease in pregnant women affects their unborn baby in the womb. Unfortunately, there are no methods to prevent transmission of the infection from mother to baby causing birth defects like microcephaly or small head and brain defects. It can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirth.


How Long Do Zika Babies Live?

There is no definite life span for Zika infected babies. While some babies tend to have a close to normal life span, some babies die within two years of birth. Based on the severity of the birth defect and brain development, the life span of Zika babies are determined by the health issues they face during their growth.


Will Zika Go Away on Its Own?

Zika virus infection does not have a definite treatment to cure it, but the infection and symptoms eventually get rid of and fade away within a period on their own.


Is Recovery From Zika Virus Disease Possible?

Recovery from Zika virus disease is definitely possible. People recover from the Zika virus within a week.


What if I Do Not Treat Zika Virus Disease?

There is no treatment to cure the Zika virus, and symptoms, if present, are not life-threatening. They resolve on their own after a definite period. Symptomatic treatment might be required.


Does Zika Virus Disease Have a Vaccine?

Zika virus disease has no known vaccine or medicine. Symptomatic treatment and preventing mosquito breeding and bites are the only remedies to date.


How to Stop Zika Virus?

Controlling mosquitoes in and around your community.
- Implementing mosquito control measures by the government.
- Preventing mosquito bites.
- Wearing fully covered clothing.
- Using insect repellants.
- Clearing stagnant water.
- Using mosquito nets.

Last reviewed at:
10 Aug 2022  -  4 min read




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