What is zika virus? How to prevent it? Its Symptoms and countries

What is zika virus?

If you want to know about zika, you’re on right place. Here I’ll explain sign and symptoms, effects, transmission, countries, treatment, origin and history of zika virus.

What is zika virus?

This virus is a member of family Flaviviridae. It is spread by Aedes mosquitoes (daytime active). The name zika comes from zika forest of Uganda, where it was first isolated in the year 1947. It is related to dangerous diseases like dengue, yellow fever, west Nile viruses and Japanese encephalitis.

Scientific classification:

Group:                  Group IV(+)ssRNA

Family:                                 Flaviviridae

Genus:                 Flavivirus

Specie:                 Zika virus

Zika virus mosquito:

The most common Aedes mosquitoes spreading zika viruses are A. aegypti and A. albopictus. These both are usually active in the daytime. The zika virus mosquitoes feed on the blood and lay eggs.

This virus has also been isolated from other mosquito species from Aedes genus. These are A. hensilli, A. luteocephalus, A. vittatus, A. africanus, A. apicoargenteus, A. furcifer.

The virus has an incubation period of about 10 days in mosquitoes.

Zika virus mosquito bite appearance:

Usually, the zika infection starts with a headache. Red rashes appear on the hands. These rashes then spread to all body parts. After it covers the whole body, the eyes start appearing red as if having bloodshot.

zika mosquito bite

Zika virus symptoms

Many people after zika mosquito bite do not develop any symptoms. Sometimes they only develop mild symptoms. The most common symptoms after zika mosquito bite are:

  • headache
  • fever
  • conjunctives
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain

Scientific Classification of zika mosquito:

Kingdom:            Animalia

Phylum:               Arthropoda

Class:                    Insecta

Order:                   Diptera

Family:                                 Culicidae

Genus:                 Aedes

Species:               A.aegypti

Mosquito species spreading zika?

Two mosquito responsible for spreading zika are:

  • aegypti
  • albopictus

Aerial Spraying and zika virus mosquito control

When people in a large in an area are getting sick and mosquitoes are found in large number then, aerial spraying is an effective method of mosquito control. Airplanes can be used to spray and kill the mosquito in large numbers.

How much is aerial spraying effective in zika virus mosquito control?

Aerial spraying with products to kill mosquitoes both adults and larva can prevent mosquitoes from spreading. As a result, the chances of zika transmission will be reduced.

  • Aerial sprays are most effective when mosquitoes are to be controlled in the area
  • It can be also be used for mosquitoes spreading other viruses than zika like dengue and chikungunya.

Zika virus mosquito vs regular mosquito

More than 3500 species of mosquitoes bite humans and suck blood for survival. But how to differentiate zika mosquito and regular mosquito.

  • How can you identify dangerous, virus-spreading mosquitoes?
  • How to Identify a Zika-Carrying Mosquito?

zika virus mosquito vs regular mosquito

Identify zika spreading mosquito as:

  • They usually bite at day time.
  • Aedes aegypti thrive in crowded cities.
  • The female mosquito lays about 1000 eggs in her short life span.
  • The eggs may remain unhatched for a long time in dry places until they find water.
  • They always lay eggs near or in standing water.
  • These can be found in corner, edges etc.

Zika virus origin:

Zika was first isolated in 1947 from the zika forest of Uganda. Since the 1950s was known only in the narrow range of Africa and Asia. In 2007 to 2016 it spread eastward to the America across the Pacific oceans. It led to the zika epidemic in 2015-2016.

Zika virus structure:

The whole Flaviviridae family, including zika, has icosahedral, enveloped, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genome. It is closely related to the virus of the family spondweni virus. The particles of the virus are 40nm in diameter. The structural protein and non-structural protein have been given in the figure showing zika structure below.

structure of zika virus

Zika virus pictures:

These are the zika picture taken with an electron microscope.

electron microscope structure of zika

How long is zika incubation period?

Incubation period means the duration between the entry of parasite and the appearance of symptoms in the host.

The zika incubation period is about 10 days. Usually, it does not develop any symptoms. In some cases, it causes only mild symptoms. After, about 10 days, it starts to be more dangerous.

History of zika:

History and zika virus breakout timeline has been given below.

Virus isolation in monkeys and mosquitoes, 1947:

The zika virus was first isolated from a Rhesus monkey. It was then placed in a cage in the zika forest of Uganda.

The second isolation followed in January 1948. It was from a mosquito named A. africanus.

The zika researches were done by the scientists of yellow fever research institute.

Simpson in 1964 was first to identify a first true case of human infection. He himself was infected while isolating virus from mosquitoes.

First zika virus infection evidence-Human infection.

A survey published in 1952 told that that zika first know human infection has been found. In 1954 Zika virus outbreak investigation, researchers reported the isolation of the virus from a patient.

The spread of Zika from Africa to Asia, 1951 to 1983:

Studies have shown that virus has spread within human populations. After first human infection, there were further 13 cases that confirmed the zika virus infection spreading from Africa and south East Asia.

Zika human infection in Micronesia, 2007:

The first zika virus outbreak occurred in April 2007 outside Africa and Asia on the island of Yap in Micronesia. It was characterized by rash, arthralgia, and conjunctives. It was initially thought to be dengue or Ross river disease. There were 49 confirmed cases, and the patients contained RNA of Zika.

Zika in the US, 2015 to present:

In 2015-2016, a widespread zika virus outbreak was ongoing. The outbreak that started in April 2015 in Brazil spread to the countries in South America, North America, the Caribbean and Central America.

WHO said zika virus outbreak is likely to spread over the US by the end of the year.

Many cases of microcephaly and Guillain–Barré syndrome were reported. These were strongly suspected to be linked the Zika virus outbreak.

Other cases:

The virus was found in a blood sample of an elderly man in 2014, in Chittagong in Bangladesh.

 Zika virus transmission:

The primarily host of Zika is monkeys. They can transmit the virus to humans. Other ways of it’s transmissions are:

  1. Mosquitoes bite.
  2. Sexual contact.
  3. From women to her fetus during pregnancy.
  4. Blood transfusion (not confirmed but likely to transmit it)

Is zika contagious? Yes

ways of zika transmission

1.       Mosquitoes bite:

Zika is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquitoes. For example, A. aegypti and A. albopictus. The same mosquitoes can also spread other viruses like dengue and chikungunya viruses.

The mosquitoes usually lay eggs in standing water or near it. They can lay eggs in buckets, bowls, flower pots, vases and animal dishes. They prefer to live near people and bite them. Usually these mosquito bite at day times. But can also bite at night.

How does mosquito get infected? When they feed on a person already infected with the Zika. So, mosquitoes are responsible for spreading the virus.

2.       Sexual contact.

Zika can be passed through sexual contact if one of the partners is infected. It can pass even when the symptoms of the virus have not yet developed.

Studies are on way, finding the answer of few questions like:

  • How long does zika last in semen and vaginal fluid?
  • How long does it remain the body?

3.       From women to her fetus during pregnancy.

Zika can pass from mother to child during pregnancy. In the fetus, it causes microcephaly and some other brain defects.

Still, there are no reports of zika transmission to baby during breastfeeding.

4.       Blood transfusion:

To date, it is not confirmed that blood transfusion passes the virus. Currently, the investigation is under process.

During the French Polynesian zika virus outbreak, 2.8% of the blood donor were tested positive for zika. While the previous zika outbreak, the virus has been found in blood donors.

How does Zika virus effect the body?

Zika effects human body causing many health risks. The major riskful effects are here:

  • It effects pregnant women, and babies causing birth defects in them.
  • It can lead to microcephaly.
  • Zika rashes are Rashes may even develop on the face.
  • The virus causes zika fever.

How zika virus effects on pregnancy?

Babies of Pregnant women who has got zika appears to be healthy. Some are born with microcephaly or other health problem. Some babies develop disorders later in life. Lifespan or survival of babies may also be effected.

effects of zika on babies

Some babies infected with zika have other birth defects, for example missing brain structures, visions, hearing defects. It can also cause poor growth.

Experts don’t know how much risk fetus have, of getting zika infection. They also don’t know if you get infected to zika in pregnancy, how likely is your baby to get birth defects.

Why is zika dangerous in pregnancy?

For only a few people who are infected with zika, the illness is very mild. But in the case of pregnant women, the effects can be devastating. It can even lead to miscarriage. The baby may born with small head and brain, the condition which is called microcephaly.

How zika causes microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a condition of the small head than normal. In this birth defect, the brain is also likely to be small. It might not have developed properly.

See further detail of microcephaly here at CDC.

How does zika virus rash look like?

The zika rash may be of variety. They can be bumpy and flat. The rash can be in the form of a small red spot. It may look like measles. These rashes seem similar in appearance as in the case of scarlet fever.

zika rashes a symptoms of virus

The rash begins on the face and then slowly spread through the whole body. The rashes do not need any cure or treatment because they fade away within three or four days. By the end of the week, there is hardly any zika rash on the body. Zika rash pictures are given below.

What is zika fever?

Zika fever (also called as zika virus disease or simply zika) is an infection of Zika. Most cases are mild having no symptoms. It resembles dengue fever. They symptoms may include red eyes (having bloodshot) fever, joint pain, headache, and rashes.

What is zika virus effects on adults?

You came to know about the zika effects in babies. Now, you might be thinking does it only effect babies? Or is there any effect of zika on adults. Yes, it has effects on the adult. Zika is linked to Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS).

See details of Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS)

Zika virus effects questions:

Few other questions that you might be having in your mind about the zika effects. These are here:

  • What is zika effect on females?

Zika effects same as adult males. It causes rashes and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS). But during pregnancy, it can more dangerous to the baby.

  • Does zika cause fetal brain damage in males?

No, it causes fetal brain damage such as microcephaly in babies of infected pregnant women.

  • Can zika cause miscarriage?

Infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage.

  • Does zika cause rash only in adults?

Zika causes rashes as well as Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) in adult’s males and females both.

  • Does zika babies’ survival or life expectancy get a decrease?

Yes, zika can effect life expectancy in babies.

Zika virus sign and symptoms:

Many people with zika do not develop any sign and symptoms. Few have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of zika are:

  • Red eyes often called Conjunctives
  • Skin rashes. First, develop on the face and then gradually spread through the whole body.
  • Joint pain
  • Fever

Other symptoms include:

  • Muscles pain
  • Headache

Zika rash symptom:

Zika rash develops on the face first. They spread on the whole body, slowly. But soon, 3 to 4 days, the rashes become normal. In end of the week, there is hardly any symptoms of rash on the skin. The zika rash picture is below.

Do the symptoms last long?

The zika symptoms only last about 10 days. As the symptoms are mild, so people even don’t get sick to go to the hospital. Many people may even not realize the zika infection. Even the zika rashes get away in 3 or 4 days, leaving no symptoms if they were before.

Symptoms of zika are similar to other viruses that spread through the mosquito bites. For example, dengue and chikungunya.

You should have a test if you develop symptoms.

The zika remains in the blood of a person for about week to 10 days. You should see your doctor if you have developed zika symptoms. You should have also a test for the similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya. Once a person is infected, he/she is likely to be protected in the future.

The symptoms you have developed may be because of:

  • Visit the areas having zika virus breakout.
  • Sexual contact with infected person.
  • Mosquito bites can spread the infection.

Zika virus prevention:

Preventing zika is important, as it causes many troubles. No vaccine exist to prevent zika. So, we must have some alternative preventions.

1.       Prevent mosquito bites:

Below is the most effective ways to protect yourself and prevent mosquito bites:

·         Pick up the right repellent.

Right repellent means products having active ingredients. The CDC recommends DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or IR 3535. What should you avoid? The non-registered repellent, such as peppermint oil, citronella oil, geranium oil, cedar oil, peppermint and etc.

·         Apply repellent correctly.

Spray should be used after sunscreen. You should not use it under clothes. Also, avoid using it on cuts and wounds.

·         Wear long pants and sleeved shirts.

You must know the drill for avoiding the mosquito bites. I.e. long pants and long sleeved shirts.

·         Exercise indoor.

If you belong to one of the zika countries then, you should know that mosquito gets attracted to heat and carbon dioxide more. These are what released naturally by our body at the time of exercise. Thus, it is better to break a sweat inside.

·         Travel smart.

Avoiding the zika virus countries is the best way to prevent zika. If you have to travel, adopt the preventive measures then.

2.       Plan well before traveling the areas having zika virus outbreak.

Special care and prevention are needed when you want to travel locations that have zika outbreak. I think prevention would be much better than cure here.

Don’t travel the area having zika virus breakout.

Firstly, you should not think of visiting zika countries. If still, you have to, then take preventive measures from a doctor.

What should you do if you live in zika areas, or travel to it?

  • Use the mosquito repellent, reapply when it is necessary.
  • Wear long pants and sleeved shirts.
  • Stay in places having screens on window and doors.

3.       Have safe sex.

Zika spreads through sexual activities. It spread from an infected person to the other even if has not started appearing symptoms. So, what measure should one adopt to prevent zika? One should use a condom if living in a location having zika virus outbreak. While for the people who does not belong to zika areas should have a check in the hospital whether they are having zika or not, especially those who travels to zika areas.

4.       During pregnancy prevention is very important.

Zika infected pregnant women can pass zika to her fetus. It may lead to birth defects in the baby. Microcephaly is the most dangerous one. So, prevention is important.

How can I protect myself from Zika during pregnancy?

  • Don’t travel to the areas of zika.
  • Avoid mosquito bites.
  • Abstain from sex if your partner has traveled any country having zika virus outbreak.

How long after the zika virus goes away?

No one knows the answer to this question. But the researchers believe that the virus will be gone from the infected body within six months after it is first infected. Zika is not going to harm or risk in future. Once, it is cleared from the body you likely to get immunity against it. It means you will not be infected by the virus again. But the researchers are not sure how long you will be having immunity against it.

Zika diagnosis/ testing:

The testing of zika is recommended by CDC to those who:

  • Are pregnant and have traveled to the areas of zika virus outbreak.
  • If you have sex with a partner who has traveled zika countries.
  • If you develop the signs and symptoms listed above.

Diagnostic Tests for Zika:

The diagnosis tests can be complicated and expensive. The names of the test being done now-a-days are:

  • Molecular Test
  • Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR Assay
  • Serologic Test
  • Zika MAC-ELISA

For further detail of these diagnostic tests, visit CDC testing and diagnosis.

How is zika treated?

There is no medicine available to treat zika. Your health care provider may give few precautions to prevent the zika symptoms.

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get enough sound sleep.
  • You can take pain killer suggested by your doctor.

Is there a vaccine for Zika?

There is no vaccine made to prevent zika. Scientists are trying to make one. But obviously, that is going to take years before zika vaccine is available.

Other questions related to zika treatment:

  • What are zika complications?

The complications in babies are, birth defects, microcephaly, Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) etc.

The Zika complications in adults are rashes and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) mainly.

  • Is there any zika virus rash treatment?

The rashes get away in 3 to 4 days, leaving no symptoms of rashes.

  • How long does the zika last in the system?

Researchers believe that zika last for about six months in the body system.

What is zika virus infected person’s life expectancy?

Lifespan or survival chances varies from person to person. It also depends on how severe the condition is. Life expectancy of babies and adults infected with zika are:

Zika virus life expectancy for babies

There is no proper data for explaining the life expectancy. Some babies with microcephaly die within a year after they are born. Other may live for about 35 years.

Life expectancy in adults:

Usually, zika causes rash symptoms and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults. The rashes disappear soon in 3 to 4 days. And Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is a very rare case of zika. Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) does not affect lifespan or expectancy, but it can lead to paralysis.

Where is zika found?

The following countries and territories have been found to have zika. It also includes the countries with zika travel notice. It does not include countries with only travel associated cases, where the virus has not been reported.

zika virus countries

The shading indicates the countries where mosquito bites transmission has been reported. But it may or may not be necessarily in entire the country or territory.

regions with zika virus outbreak

Among Asia and pacific island, the below countries have zika outbreak. The transmission of zika through mosquito bites have also been reported in these countries.

The zika virus outbreak countries in Africa is given in below map.

zika virus countries in continent africa

Other questions about zika virus countries:

Still, question in your mind! See the below questions you might be searching for. It is related to zika countries.

  • What is zika virus death rate in different countries?

Zika causes rashes and Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults. It leads to microcephaly or birth defects in children. Now, do these conditions lead to death? Zika rashes go away in 3 to 4 days. Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) is rare and can cause paralysis. The only case that can lead to death is microcephaly in babies. It leads the children to death, who are born with birth defects. Sometimes, when the condition is less severe then, the death rate decreases and child can live about 35 years.

  • What are zika virus long term effects?

The zika long term effects are Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults and birth defects in babies.

  • Why is zika of concern these days?

It is a concern of these days because it is contagious. It causes birth defects in children, what can lead to death.

  • Is zika life threatening? Or is it deadly?

Only in the case of birth defects such as microcephaly, it can be life threatening. In other cases, it usually does not lead to death.

Other frequently asked questions about zika:

The following are the zika frequently asked questions.

  • Does zika go away?

Yes, it goes away. It remains in the body for about 6 months. While if we talk about zika rash symptoms, rashes disappear in about 3 days.

  • Is it contagious?

Yes, zika is contagious. It can spread through various ways, such as sex, mosquito bites, travel to countries having zika virus outbreak etc.

  • How long does it stay in the body?

About 6 months, it stays in the body. Our body becomes immunized to it after its first infection.

  • How long do zika effected babies live?

Life expectancy of babies depends on the severity of the birth defects. Some babies die within a year. While some can live a life about 35 years.

  • How does zika rash pattern looks like?

Zika causes rashes on the whole body. Usually, it develops on the face first, then spreads throughout the whole body.

  • Is zika virus repellents effective?

Zika repellents are only effective for mosquito control.


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