The Zika virus’s northwards travel from South America has been a trending topic and, often, the reports raise as many questions as they answer. With a history of enabling peace of mind through pandemic consulting, Iridia Medical wants to clear up any misconceptions and rumours by sharing concise and accurate information about this virus.
From February 15th to 25th, we released daily infographics through social media to answer frequently-asked questions about the Zika virus. The topics covered ranged from what the virus is and how it spreads, to methods of managing the risk. Below, you’ll find an overview of the infographic information, along with the infographics themselves.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus and transmitted primarily by the Aedes mosquitoes. The virus can be, but rarely is, transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusions.
Zika Virus Symptoms and Treatment
Zika virus symptoms in adults are usually mild to non-existent: up to 80% of virus-carriers have no symptoms and the other 20% exhibit only minor symptoms. With mild symptoms, health experts do not recommend antiviral medications. Plenty of rest, fluids and supportive care are recommended, similar to other virus infections. So far, no vaccines are available for this virus, though several research groups are working on developing one.
Is the Zika Virus Linked to Microcephaly?
Concerns from health experts have escalated recently due to a potential link between the Zika virus and the birth defect, microcephaly. While there have been reports of microcephaly in babies of mothers living in Brazil who were infected with the virus while pregnant, it is critical to be aware that, at this time, health experts have NOT established a definitive link between the Zika virus and microcephaly. However, as the virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, it is recommended that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where the Zika virus is widespread.
For concerned pregnant women, blood tests and amniocentesis are recommended to check for any Zika virus infection. Additionally, regular ultrasounds are recommended for microcephaly detection.
How does the Zika Virus Spread?
The Zika virus is predominantly spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquitoes. To prevent the spread, we recommend preventative measures. For example, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid these mosquito bites. This includes avoiding travel to places where the virus is being transmitted. If you are already in areas known to be contaminated by the Zika virus, we recommend the following:
- wear long-sleeved shirts and pants,
- sleep with a mosquito bed net,
- use insect repellent, and
- practice safe sex to prevent sexual transmission.
Will the virus spread to Canada? This is very unlikely. The confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Canada involve people who have travelled to areas with outbreaks. The risk of infection within Canada is low, as the Aedes mosquitoes are not established in Canada because they are not well-suited to our climate.
Over the next four weeks, we will be providing weekly updates about the Zika virus through our social media. Afterwards, you can expect monthly updates until the virus is contained. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to stay updated. If you have any questions or concerns about the Zika virus, feel free to reach out to us!
- CDC added Aruba and Bonaire to the travel advisory watch list for pregnant women. (There are now 32 countries in Latin & South America on the watch list.)
- WHO issued a $56 million plan to combat the Zika virus through fast-tracking vaccines, virus control, diagnostics and research.
- Women wishing to get pregnant should wait at least two months after their return from areas where the Zika virus is being transmitted.
- Men who have travelled where the Zika virus is being transmitted should use condoms with any partner who is or could become pregnant for two months after their return.