Zika virus infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Zika virus infection is an infection in humans caused by the Zika virus.The first human cases were identified in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. The Australian Government Department of Health has a list of countries with current or recent active circulation of Zika virus.
Zika virus is spread when a person is bitten by an Aedes mosquito infected with the virus. Spread is mainly through bites from infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes but also through bites from infected Aedes albopticus mosquitoes.
Neither of these mosquitoes are naturally found in South Australia, but Aedes aegypti is found in North Queensland and Central Queensland.
Zika virus can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or delivery. Sexual transmission is also possible.
Signs and symptoms of Zika virus infection
Most people (80%) with Zika virus do not have any symptoms. If illness occurs, it usually lasts 4 to 7 days.
sore joints and possibly swollen joints (usually small joints of the hands and feet)
conjunctivitis – inflamed (red) eyes, usually without any discharge
headache, usually behind the eyes.
Some people may experience fatigue and low energy levels after the initial symptoms resolve.
Zika virus has been linked to:
rare neurological diseases including Guillain-Barré syndrome
rare birth defects, including microcephaly (an underdeveloped brain), in babies born to mothers with Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
Diagnosis of Zika virus infection
Individuals who have returned to Australia within two weeks following travel to countries where there is current or recent local Zika virus transmission and become unwell, should see their doctor and mention their overseas travel. Zika virus infection is diagnosed with a blood test. Other infections, such as dengue fever and chikungunya,which occur in the same geographical areas and have similar symptoms, should be excluded. Pregnant women, women at risk of pregnancy, men with a pregnant partner and men who are part of a couple planning pregnancy who have travelled to a Zika virus affected area should see their doctor regarding prevention of transmission and testing.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
Usually 3 to 12 days.
Treatment for Zika virus infection
There is no specific treatment available.
General recommendations include the use of supportive treatments such as rest, fluids and medications for pain relief.
Do not use aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications until dengue fever is excluded. These medications can cause severe bleeding in people with dengue fever.
Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.
Prevention of Zika virus infection
There is no vaccine to prevent human infection by this virus.
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