Zika Virus

24 Jul 2017

A frightening phenomenon that is encompassing the world as we speak is a virus known as the Zika virus. The Zika virus is spread to people through being susceptible to mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.  It is rare that even in the most severe of cases would hospitalisation be necessary.

The Zika virus is closely related to Dengue and yellow fever as well as Japanese encephalitis. The virus causes an illness that is similar to a milder form of the Dengue fever. The major concern by health authorities’ worldwide is of the ability for this virus to be spread rapidly given the simplicity and availability of fast intercontinental travel that is available to the average person. One can simply be in the tropics one day and at the top or bottom ends of the world the next. The virus is transmitted by a large range of daytime active mosquitoes with species that can be located or identified on all continents on earth.

In the last 12 to 18 months many news reports have drawn attention to the spread of the Zika virus in the Caribbean and South American countries. Countries such as El Salvador, Haiti Honduras, Mexico, Panama to name a few as well as in Brazil where the 2016 Olympic Games are to be held. Many precautions are underway and all countries and sporting authorities have been notified of the risks.

The main concern to world health authorities at the moment is to pregnant women and women considering childbirth who may become infected. There is some evidence to support the fact that the Zika can be sexually transmitted and this is of grave concern also to couples considering reproduction. Not all is understood about the possible outcomes that are associated with the infection during pregnancy and the risks are not yet fully understood. The link between the Zika virus and Microcephaly in new born babies that is transmitted by mother to child also has many unknown possibilities.

Work has begun on developing an effective vaccine for the Zika virus; however this may take some time. Many vaccines have already been developed for other mosquito spread viruses and diseases and the hope is that a shortcut may be available with some of the existing formulas. This virus was first isolated in 1947 and was found in a monkey. During the early 50s evidence was found of human infection and during the 60s 70s and 80s many more cases were reported. It wasn't until 2007 that the first signs of the virus were found outside of the Asian and African continents. At the moment a very large and evolving outbreak of the virus has been discovered in Brazil.

Anyone looking to travel to countries that are in high risk areas should take great precautions. Some of the precautions include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use insect repellents that  are safe for women that may be breastfeeding and are considering pregnancy or are pregnant and children that are older than two months. Please always use these products in accordance with the product labels.

Given this virus has already been discovered in Australia and that Australia is a country where the mosquito thrives in abundance than other precautions that should be considered to adequately provide protection for your home. These may include insect screening products. Insect screens should be installed to all opening windows. Screen doors or security screen doors to all opening doors. It would be wise not only to have the hinged screen doors or security screen doors in your home fitted; however it would also be wise to have any sliding glass doors installed with sliding security screens or sliding insect screens.

Seconline is an online supplier of a large variety of security screens and security screen doors as well as insect screens. These are available to be ordered direct from your nearest Internet connection and delivered direct to your door anywhere in Australia including Tasmania and any Australian islands. Visit www.seconline.com.au

For more information regarding the Zika virus and information regarding travel for Australians please visit https://smartraveller.gov.au/bulletins/zika_virus

 

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