The Zika Virus
The Zika virus is comparatively new and is poorly understood. It is transmitted to humans in tropical regions through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Unfortunately, there is no the vaccine or effective treatment for it.The main way to prevent contracting the Zika virus is to protect against mosquito bites. This paper aims to discuss the history of the condition, epidemiological data, and application of the levels of prevention.
History of the Zika Virus
The Zika virus was discovered in 1947 in Uganda as the disease in African monkeys, and in 1953, it was detected in humans in Nigeria, when three persons were infected (Berger, 2014). Later, the scientists registered this disease in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific (Belluck & McNeil, 2016). Initially, the virus seemed to cause mild and febrile illness until a great outbreak occurred in 2007, with 5000 persons infected in the Federated States of Micronesia (Petersen, Jamieson, Powers & Honein, 2016). Now this microorganism has spread all over the world, and the public is experiencing much anxiety about this. Subsequently, an outbreak of the Zika virus was observed in 2013 and 2014, when 32,000 people were infected in French Polynesia, which had dangerous consequences (Berger, 2014). Similar epidemics were also observed in Easter Island, New Caledonia, Samoa, and other Pacific islands (Belluck & McNeil, 2016).
The virus, carried by mosquitoes’ genus Aedes , causes the disease, which is accompanied by a slight fever, conjunctivitis, headache, skin rash, and pain in muscles and joints. These symptoms usually persist for 2-7 days.Cases of infection have been registered in 21 countries, and the first place belongs to Brazil, which is swept by the largest epidemic of the Zika fever. It is followed by Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and some other countries.
One of the most urgent questions is a danger of the Zika virus to pregnant women because this microorganism is active in the development of microcephaly. Therefore, doctors consider it to be one of the most serious infections. A large number of recorded cases of Zika were detected in pregnant women, which resulted in microcephaly in infants. The research asserts that four thousand children were infected with Zika in Brazil, and this number continues to grow in other countries (Petersen et al., 2016). Although there is no a verified connection between the Zika virus and microcephaly in children, some countries have implemented strict protective measures. For example, El Salvador recommended its women to restrain from having children for two years (Berger, 2014).
In general, the virus is not transmitted from person to person; it needs a carrier (mosquito), which will transport the virus to another patient.According to the American Society of Infectious Diseases, only about one in five infected persons may experience some symptoms, but most people do not have any of them (Belluck & McNeil, 2016). The disease caused by this virus is mild and does not require any specific treatment. People should drink water, get plenty of rest, and take regular medication to alleviate pain and fever. In case the symptoms worsen, it is recommended to consult a doctor.
According to the CDC, every fifth person infected with this virus will become ill (Petersen et al., 2016). The virus rarely leads to severe complications, and up to the present time, scientists and doctors do not consider it a serious infectious disease. However, in rare cases, the virus is associated with the development of the Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that can cause partial or complete paralysis. Currently, there is no specific treatment for the Zika fever and no vaccine against this pathogen. Furthermore, this virus causes neurological complications such as Meningoencephalitis.
Existing studies suggest that the Zika virus causes negative fetal outcomes, leading to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns (Berger, 2014). Moreover, it can result in chorioretinitis, sensorineural hearing loss, and neurologic effects such as intellectual disability, microcephaly, and cerebral palsy (Belluck & McNeil, 2016). For example, a newborn may have microcephaly as a result of the disruption of the fetal brain tissue. Berger (2014) believes that the diagnosis of the Zika virus is established through the detection of IgM antibodies or viral nucleic acid by RT-PCR.
However, the majority of infected patients do not experience specific symptoms, which can lead to long-term consequences. The scientific and medical concern is focused on women who become infected during pregnancy (Petersen et al., 2016). Because of the risk of microcephaly in infants, it is recommended to pregnant women who were diagnosed to have contracted the Zika virus to have fetal monitoring every three-four weeks (Berger, 2014). Admittedly, the risk for a pregnant woman to be infected with the Zika virus is the same as for a non-pregnant, but the former faces a higher risk of having a child with developmental disabilities such as microcephaly.
The Levels of Prevention
The most effective way of prevention from the Zika virus is protection against mosquito bites. People can use repellents, mosquito nets, and mosquito curtains for sleeping.
According to the research, pregnant women, located in the regions of the spread of the disease, should beware of any mosquito bites, especially in the first and early second trimester (Belluck & McNeil, 2016).The representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend pregnant women not to travel to the countries where they can contract the virus.
According to the CDC, based on the Healthy People 2020 goals, it is recommended to provide a response planning for public health officials of the local and state level that include three important steps (Petersen et al., 2016). Firstly, the implementation of vector control and surveillance programs in at-risk areas where outbreaks are detected. The purpose of this step is to develop a plan in the endemic areas, educate communities, provide vector control, and train partners. These measures help support infected individuals.
Secondly, public health surveillance and epidemiological investigation should be implemented to ensure the diagnosis in order to monitor epidemiology. It also helps choose interventions or follow-up for infected individuals. Healthcare providers identify and confirm the cases of infection with the virus, especially in pregnant women, ensuring that clinicians and officials implement timely measures to help the infected people.
Thirdly, it is necessary to provide laboratory testing and support services with the involvement of territorial and state departments.. This step encourages healthcare providers to communicate with testing services. Although diagnosing is rather complicated, healthcare providers offer IgM antibody ELISA or molecular (RT-PCR) tests for the Zika virus infection (Berger, 2014). As a rule, state health departments explain how to submit specimens and give recommendations to those who need such services.
Thus, these levels of prevention of the Zika virus reduce the risk of infection and increase the possibility to recover from it without further complications. The U.S. government is engaged in solving global healthcare problems and this urgent issue in particular in low-income countries.
The Zica virus has become an urgent problem in a number of developing countries. The United States voice a great concern for this issue. Although there are no direct symptoms, it may be rather dangerous, especially to pregnant women, because it affects the fetus, resulting in complications in newborns. Diagnosing, treatment, protection, and control are the main factors that healthcare providers can use to combat the disease. Moreover, the governmental control is also very effective in providing a response planning.