International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Zika virus: know more and take action

Zika virus is primarily transmitted by a bite from the same type of mosquito that also carries dengue and chikungunya. The best way to avoid Zika and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, take action to avoid being bitten and maintain routine for prevention.

CLEAN UP | COVER UP | KEEP IT UP

How it spreads

It is spread primarily by mosquito bite

The mosquito which spread Zika bites during the day particularly at sunrise and sunset.

Symptoms

Zika is usually a mild illness

Symptoms can include a rash, fever and red eyes. These usually last for several days.

Infections

1-in-5 will show symptoms

Many people may have the virus and not display any symptoms or feel unwell.

What to do if you think you have Zika

The treatment of Zika is relatively simple. Ask your pharmacy what over-the-counter–medication you should choose to treat pain, lower the fever and alleviate itching associated with skin rashes. There is no specific drug or vaccine for Zika. The only option is to treat the symptoms of the disease until you get better.

Please note that aspirin and ibuprofen are not suitable for treatment of Zika.

Pregnant women

Zika virus can pass from a mother to the unborn baby during pregnancy. Doctors are currently working to establish if there is a link between Zika and microcephaly in babies, namely babies who are born with small heads and serious developmental problems.

Although this has not been confirmed yet, it is key that pregnant women  take extra care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Pregnant women with symptoms of Zika virus should immediately seek medical attention.

Children

Children with symptoms should immediately be seen by a local healthcare provider for assessment in situations where there is additional possibility of dengue infection.

Be aware of these warning signs as they could suggest severe dengue for your child:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding gums
  • Vomiting blood
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue/ restlessness

CLEAN UP, COVER UP AND KEEP IT UP!

What you can do to prevent Zika

  • Once a week, remove, empty, clean and cover containers that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers.
  • Eliminate standing water in and around your home.
  • Remove rubbish as often as possible.
  • If water needs to be stored, make sure the container is fully covered to prevent mosquitoes getting into it.
  • If containers cannot be properly drained, fill them with sand and cover.
  • Keep skin covered, especially during sunrise and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
  • Use repellents recommended by health authorities and reapply them frequently (every few hours) to exposed skin or clothes. Repellent will last longer if applied to clothes.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get Zika from drinking water?

Can I get Zika from drinking water?

No. The virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It can be transmitted sexually by a man to his sex partner or from a mother to her unborn baby during pregnancy. Experts are investigating if Zika virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion.

How is Zika virus transmitted by a mosquito?

How is Zika virus transmitted by a mosquito?

Zika virus can be found in a person’s blood during the first week of infection. It can pass from an infected person to another person when a mosquito bites the infected person and then bites another person. This mosquito likes biting several people. If you get sick, it is important you protect your family by wearing clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, using insect repellent and sleeping under a bed net at all times, especially between early morning and dusk.

Is there a test for Zika?

Is there a test for Zika?

Currently there is no widely available test for Zika infection. People are usually diagnosed based on their symptoms and recent history (e.g. mosquito bites, or travel to an area where Zika virus is known to be present). A sophisticated blood test during the first week of infection is the best way to confirm Zika. Blood tests afterwards detect antibodies but there is a greater challenge to determine whether the illness was due to Zika, dengue or chikungunya.

What is the Guillain-Barré syndrome?

What is the Guillain-Barré syndrome?

A small number of people infected with Zika are at risk of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome in the first 1-3 weeks of infection. This is a potentially serious condition affecting the nervous system. Possible symptoms include muscle weakness, tingling sensations in the limbs, double vision, and breathing or swallowing difficulties. Medical attention should be sought immediately. The condition normally resolves with appropriate medical care.

Can I catch Zika virus through sex?

Can I catch Zika virus through sex?

Yes. Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sex partners but experts suspect that it rarely happens. The virus is present in semen longer than in blood. Pregnant women’s sex partners living in/returning from areas where Zika is known to occur should practice safer sex throughout pregnancy.

Is Zika caused by genetically modified mosquitos?

Is Zika caused by genetically modified mosquitos?

No. There is no evidence that Zika and the unusual increase in microcephaly cases in Brazil is linked to genetically modified mosquitoes.

Source: www.who.int

Can larvicide cause microcephaly?

Can larvicide cause microcephaly?

No. There is no known link between use of larvicides and increase in microcephaly among children. Larvicides such as pyriproxyfen are used in containers where people store water to prevent larvae to develop into adult mosquitoes. Drinking water treated with larvicides is not harmful.

Source: www.who.int

Can vaccines cause microcephaly?

Can vaccines cause microcephaly?

No. There is no evidence that vaccines cause microcephaly in babies.

Source: www.who.int

Should I avoid travelling to areas where Zika virus is occurring?

Should I avoid travelling to areas where Zika virus is occurring?

Travellers should stay informed about Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases and consult their local health or travel authorities if they are concerned. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitos is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
People returning from areas where Zika is known to occur should adopt safer sexual practices for at least four weeks after their return.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies