WHAT? : Zikaviras is a mosquito borne virus. It can be directly transmitted by mosquitoes; infected people can transmit the disease via body fluids (including semen and possibly blood).
WHERE? : There is currently an outbreak of Zikavirus in the Americas, Carribean and the Pacific.
WHY IS IT A CONCERN? : the majority of people infected with Zikavirus will have no symptoms or complications. Some will experience fever, rashes, joint pains and red eyes. A very small percentage of infected people can develop neurologic complications, including spinal cord and brain infections, severe weakness/paralysis (Guilain-Barr Syndrome). Infection during pregnancy can cause the baby to have microcephaly – an abnormally small brain and head, which is accompanied by significant, often severe developmenal delays.
HOW TO PREVENT INFECTION AND ITS COMPLICATIONS? : Mosquito prevention should be used in areas where Zikavirus may be present, ie, covering exposed areas, applying permethrin to clothing, mosquito nets and using mosquito repellents such as DEET to exposed skin. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends people who have been in areas where Zika is prevalent, should avoid unprotected sex for at least six months after travelling. There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for Zikavirus infections or its complications.