How do you know if you have Zika virus? More than 79.9 percent of the people who contract the virus do not show any symptoms. That means that there is a large chance you will never know if you have contracted the virus. |
That is scary! However there are a number of steps you can take to analyze your condition and virus exposure risks.
If you have recently been to a country like Brazil, you may have an increased chance of contracting the virus. If you are planning to visit Brazil, please understand that a simple mosquito bite can infect you with the virus.
You should definitely be tested for the virus if you visit South American countries like Brazil or Caribbean nations that have high Zika infection rates.
You can also look for the following virus symptoms:
- Receival of a mosquito bite while visiting Brazil, Africa or another infected country
- A blotchy red irritation on your skin that is rash-like
- Soreness or pain in muscular tissue
- Pain in bone-joints such as knee pain
- Aching of the head
- Pressure and discomfort behind the ocular area of the eyes
- Irritated red-eyes that itch
- Unexpected internal bleeding complications
As with many infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS, Zika was first identified on the African continent in monkeys. Now the virus has spread to Brazil and nearby South American countries.
How you protect yourself?
The best defense against contracting the virus is to apply insect repellent to all areas of your body where it is safe to use. The bug spray drives away mosquitoes which transmit the virus.
Mosquitoes, which also carry disease like Malaria, are the enemy, so treat them that way.
Make sure that you are never unprotected while visiting an area that has been infected by mosquitoes. Staying indoors does not protect you from the virus. Mosquitoes easily enter indoor areas when passageways are open.
Sleeping under mosquito nets is also a precaution that can be taken.
However, you must also use bug repellent even if you are using a mosquito net.
Avoid traveling to rural or natural areas where mosquito threats are present. Avoid visiting any standing water ponds or lakes that have no waves and are completely calm. Mosquitoes breed on these calm watery patches.
You are much more likely to be bitten if you are near these breeding grounds.
Is Florida and the Gulf coast at risk for Zika virus?
The gulf coast is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. So far, Zika cases have been linked to travelers returning from infected nations. However, many experts feel that it is only a matter of time until native mosquitoes contract the virus. The US is more proactive than other countries in reducing mosquito populations through abatement techniques.
Is there a Zika test I can take?
While there are tests for the virus, multiple rounds of tests must often be conducted in order to validate the existence of the virus in the human body. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now opening more that 29 local testing labs throughout the nation to test individuals for the virus. A new test an RT-PCR test is being used by the CDC. In this type of diagnostic procedure patients are subjected to a process called Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction.
This new test now takes four for results to appear. The old tests took nearly a month to complete, so these new tests represent a positive direction.
However, there is a catch, time is of the essence. The new test must be conducted no more than within one week of being bitten by the mosquito. There is no confirmed accuracy for performing the test for greater periods of time.
Pregnant women are the largest community of risk for the virus. The virus can be transmitted to the unborn child. Mental retardation, massive birth defects and microcephaly are validated conditions that often affect the unborn child.
We now know that the virus can be transmitted sexually. To be safe do not have sexual relations with anyone suspected of virus exposure. All partners should be tested for Zika before sexual activity.
Please contact your doctor right away if you have been bitten. Also, you can contact the CDC directly if your doctor is not able to see you right away.