Zika Virus - All Information Here

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Zika Virus - All Information Here
Zika Virus - All Information Here
Video: Zika Virus - All Information Here
Video: Zika Virus 101 2023, February
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Zika virus

The Zika virus belongs to the flavivirus family and can be transmitted from person to person by mosquitoes. Infection through sexual contacts or blood is also possible.

An infection with the Zika virus remains asymptomatic and unnoticed in 80 percent of those affected. Infection during pregnancy in particular can have serious consequences: since 2015 (especially in Brazil), more and more skull malformations have been reported in newborns whose mothers are infected with the Zika virus.

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Pathogen: Zika virus from the group of Flavi viruses (as well as the TBE, yellow fever and dengue virus).

Distribution: The Zika virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947. The first Zika virus infection was reported in Brazil in 2015, and since then the virus has spread to more than 65 countries worldwide. Tropical and subtropical areas are affected, including Central and South America, the Caribbean, parts of the USA and Southeast Asia.

Distribution map

A list of the areas affected over the past nine months is available on the European Center for Disease Prevention (ECDC) website:

In Europe, only imported cases have so far occurred among travelers returning, in Austria there were 31 reported cases by the end of 2016. The illness has been notifiable in Austria since 2016.

Transmission: The Zika virus is transmitted via the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which is native to the tropics and subtropics. It is assumed that the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which has already been found in Europe, is a potential vector.

Incubation period: three to twelve days.

Symptoms: The infectious disease is accompanied by fever, blotchy skin rash, headache, joint and muscle pain, inflammation of the conjunctiva and vomiting. The acute symptoms appear three to twelve days after an infectious mosquito bite and last up to a week. The symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever, but the course is usually milder. Single deaths have been reported, but those affected had serious pre-existing conditions.

The majority of infected people (up to 80 percent) show no symptoms.

Zika virus and microcephaly: The Zika virus can have serious consequences for the unborn child in pregnant women, especially if infected during the first six months of pregnancy: In 2015, the Brazilian authorities reported a sharp increase in skull and brain malformations (Microcephaly) in newborns. Since then, other abnormalities have been observed and associated with the Zika virus, such as placental insufficiency or growth retardation of the fetus through to miscarriages. An increased occurrence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (neurological disease with inflammatory changes in the nervous system) also seems to be related to Zika infection.

Diagnosis: The Zika virus can be detected in the blood up to three days after the onset of symptoms using special laboratory tests (RT-PCR). After that, detection in the blood is only possible by means of antibody detection. The virus may also be detectable in the urine for up to two weeks after the onset of symptoms. It can also be detected in the seminal fluid for up to six months.

Due to the similarity of the clinical symptoms with dengue and chikungunya fever and the largely common distribution areas, tests should always be carried out for these two virus infections in parallel. In Austria, diagnostics are possible at the reference center for arboviruses at the virology department of the Medical University of Vienna.

Therapy: there is no special therapy against the Zika virus; the symptoms can be relieved with fever and pain relieving medication, as well as adequate bed rest and hydration.

Prevention: There is currently no vaccination or medication prophylaxis. Prevention is therefore based on avoiding mosquito bites.

Before traveling to countries where the Zika virus is locally transmitted, find out about the current status of infections with the virus.

Use the following measures to protect yourself from mosquitoes indoors and outdoors throughout the day, but especially during dawn and dusk, when the animals are most active:

  • Use insect repellant according to the directions on the label. Products containing DEET are not recommended for young children under three months of age, but are not advised against for pregnant women.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially during the time of day when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Sleep or rest in screened or air-conditioned rooms or under a mosquito net, even during the day.
  • More about it here.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the next few months, you should avoid or postpone traveling to the countries and areas currently affected. In any case, you should clarify the situation with the treating doctor before you start your journey.

If you suffer from a severe chronic illness (e.g. immune disorder) or are traveling with small children, find out which insect repellants or precautionary measures are suitable before you travel. Get advice from your doctor or from a travel medical facility.

Recommendations for returnees from the affected areas:

  • Travelers who develop symptoms suggestive of an infection with the Zika virus within three weeks of returning from an affected area should see a doctor and advise them of the trip.

  • Pregnant women who have been to areas where the Zika virus is transmitted should inform their gynecologist so that they can check for possible infection during pregnancy exams.

Risk assessment for Austria: There is a likelihood that travelers will be infected during a stay in affected countries and thus bring the virus to Austria. Transmission through unprotected sexual intercourse with infected people (return travelers) is possible.

In general, the risk of transmission of the Zika virus infection in Austria is low, as none of the mosquitos are native.

Mosquito monitoring in Austria: On behalf of the Ministry of Health, mosquito monitoring has been carried out throughout Austria by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) since 2011. Mosquitoes are monitored for viruses such as West Nile Virus, Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika. Zika virus has never been detected before; there was individual evidence of the potential vector mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in 2012 (Gelsen monitoring by AGES).

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