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Like the best videos, the Zika forest, located in Uganda, has gone viral in recent months. The fault is not of its lush vegetation, nor of an unprecedented tourist campaign. The origin of its fame is due to the fact that, they say, an infection practically unknown until today was discovered for the first time. Hence, the virus that causes the disease is named after the forest: Zika.
1. How is the disease transmitted?
The fault of everything is a mosquito, called Aedes aegypti, that in addition to transmitting the popular dengue, and the less famous Chikungunya fever, it turns out that now it also infects Zika. Of course, a sting has never been so annoying. In addition, Zika also can be passed from person to person, through contaminated blood, sexual fluids and perinatally (from mother to fetus). It is not transmitted through the air, or by contact with the skin, or by kissing or through breastfeeding. In Spain, there are no cases of disease transmission by this mosquito, although potentially no one is safe. Climate change favors the arrival of insects in our country that could transmit these and other infections. It's not about scaring, it's about being prepared.
2. Is it a fatal disease?
The infection is not that serious. About 80% of infected people do not have any symptoms. As the disease develops, intermittent fever, headache, skin and eye spots, and muscle and joint pain appear. In a period of 3-7 days the symptoms disappear without leaving sequelae, although the pain in the joints may persist longer. Fatal cases have been described, but they are rare. In fact, the flu has higher mortality.
3. Is there treatment? How can I prevent Zika?
There is no specific treatment nor is there a vaccine. The only thing we can do, like the flu, is treat the symptoms and wait. The best prevention at present is to avoid the mosquito bite, following the following recommendations:
- Use of repellents and mosquito nets.
- Avoid exposing arms and legs, especially at dawn and dusk (if it is hot, linen clothing is a good option).
- Avoid wearing clothes with bright colors for insects, mainly yellow and other intense (loud) colors.
- Put socks over pants and avoid wearing sandals or walking barefoot.
- In general, anything that occurs to us and makes 'life more difficult' for mosquitoes.
4. How does it affect pregnant women?
But if it is a generally mild infection, why so much fame? Why so much alarm?
The main concern with Zika arises when it infects pregnant women, since the virus is transmitted through the placenta and causes problems in the fetus. Of these, the most serious is what is known as microcephaly, a defect in the development of the brain and skull that can cause psychomotor retardation and even death. An added difficulty is that 80% of those infected do not have symptoms, so the bad news comes unexpectedly during ultrasound controls of the pregnancy. Y once microcephaly is established, there is also currently no known cure.
Obviously, this is generating an alarm at a global level, initially focused on the Latin American countries where a greater number of cases have been registered so far, but extended to the rest of the world due to the risk of transmission between humans; low risk, but possible. Precisely, in Latin America, most countries are recommending that pregnant women protect themselves as much as possible against mosquito bites, and some countries are even recommending that women not get pregnant until the lesser season of the year arrives. affectionate for insects, that is, winter.
5. Will Zika arrive in Spain?
And finally, is there cause for alarm in Spain? Well, not currently, but we should familiarize ourselves with the general tips to avoid insect bites. Never forget it, in Spain we already had malaria, although today this sounds strange or impossible to some. It is the same as malaria, and some will know it from 'tertiary fevers'. Between how easy it is today to move around the world, and climate change, call me crazy, but keep an eye on your closest mosquitoes and, above all, do not make life easier for them.
You can read more articles similar to Zika virus. We solve your doubts about zika virus, in the category of Childhood Illnesses on site.