How the Zika Virus Spread Across the World

zika virus

If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you have probably heard people talking about the Zika Virus. Last year in Singapore there was a Zika Cluster near Sims Avenue and now clusters have been found in Hougang with the number of people infected on the rise.

However, you might not know too much about this virus or the type of damage it can do. In this post, we will be taking a closer look at the virus to see just why so many people are worried about it.

History of the Zika Virus

Zika History Map

What Is the Zika Virus?

The Zika Virus is an infectious disease that is spread through the bite of mosquitoes. Those who are bitten by the insects carrying this disease may develop a range of systems.

This includes muscle and joint pain, rashes on the skin, red eyes, headaches, and fever.

Most of the time, this will only last for about seven days. While this doesn’t sound too terrible, the real danger comes from infection while a woman is pregnant. It can cause microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head, a result of incomplete brain development) and other types of brain malformations in babies. In some adults, it has also been connected with Guillain-Barre syndrome (muscle weakness).

Microcephaly

Where does Zika Virus come from?

This virus was first discovered in 1942 in Uganda; where it was found in the tissues of a rhesus monkey. The virus was named after the Zika forest in Uganda where it was first found. In the 1950s, the Zika Virus was detected in mosquitoes and then, shortly thereafter, in humans. The Zika Virus has since spread to many countries where the Aedes mosquito lives and breeds and where there is the possibility of transmission to people.

What are the Zika Virus riskiest countries?

You have the highest risk of contracting the Zika Virus if you visit countries where past or current outbreaks occur. Countries in South America and Central America, Asia (including Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand) and parts of Africa are at moderate to high risk because cases of transmission have occurred there.

The Caribbean and Pacific islands are also risky. Brazil was a known hotspot for Zika Virus in 2016 and is still a moderate-risk country in South America.  All countries in South and Central America are still at moderate risk while the riskiest places are in central Africa. The virus occurs where the natural vector, the Aedes mosquito, occurs making transmission of the virus to humans possible.

How is the Zika Virus carried?

The virus is typically carried in mosquitoes, specifically the aedes. You can recognize this mosquito through the markings. They have white markings on their legs and on the upper thorax is are markings that look similar to a lyre. This mosquito is one of the most common in Singapore, and it can spread other diseases such as dengue and yellow fever which are equally problematic and actually more prevalent then Zika.

Aedes Mosquito

When the aedes mosquitoes bite, they can infect the person with the virus. However, the virus can be carried and spread through humans who have been bitten, as well. This occurs in the bodily fluids, so it is important to be safe and cautious around family members or friends who have the Zika Virus until they are better.

Who is most at risk for Zika Virus?

If you live in a country where Zika Virus is present you are at risk of infection. Singapore, in particular, is a moderate to high-risk area. You are at risk if bitten by a mosquito but also if you have unprotected sex with an individual who is infected.

While anybody in countries where Zika occurs can contract the virus it is most often diagnosed among people aged 20 to 29 years. The people most at risk for severe consequences from catching Zika Virus are pregnant women. This is because of the harmful consequences for any fetuses that are exposed to this virus in the womb.

What are the causes for the Zika Virus?

Zika is an illness caused by a virus in the Flaviviridae family. The virus is in the genus Flavivirus. The virus is small, spherical, and surrounded by an envelope. Like other flaviviruses, the viral genetic material, the RNA, enters the cells of the host where it makes copies of itself.

Similar to other flaviviruses like West Nile Virus, Zika targets and affects the cells of the nervous system. Symptoms are caused when a person contracts the Zika Virus from a mosquito or another person and the virus begins to multiply inside the person’s body.

How can the Zika Virus be prevented?

Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine or cure for this virus, but there are ways to prevent the spread of the disease. Since the disease is carried by mosquitoes, you need to take steps to prevent bites from the insects.

You do not want to have standing water in your home or your yard, as this can be a breeding ground for the insects.

Contacting professional pest control companies to take care of mosquitoes on your property is always a good idea. After all, mosquitoes can carry diseases other than just the Zika Virus. If you control the mosquitoes outside of your home, you should not worry about them going inside.

Fogging Mosquito Treatment

Misting Mosquito Treatment

Frequently Asked Questions

The most common Zika Virus symptoms include fever, rash and itching, headache, joint and muscle pain, eye pain, and conjunctivitis.

Zika Virus is not considered a life-threatening virus and usually causes mild infection, however, some people might experience severe complications.

Although Zika Virus doesn’t usually make people very sick, it is especially dangerous for pregnant women as it causes birth defects and other pregnancy problems.

To prevent Zika Virus prevent mosquito bites by covering your skin with clothes, using mosquito repellents or hiring pest management services.