Infection with Zika virus is a viral infection spread by a mosquito. It is transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes species , most often Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus . Mosquitoes of the Aedes species also transmit dengue fever and chikungunya fever. The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person already infected with the Zika virus. The mosquito can then transmit the virus to others by pricking them.
Microcephaly is a rare congenital abnormality where the baby's head is smaller than normal, which can lead to brain development problems. Infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy can cause other adverse effects in the newborn, including a hearing impairment or a disruption of its growth.
In 2015, the Zika virus spread to Central America and South America. However, Aedes mosquitoes that cause Zika virus transmission are not adapted to the Canadian climate. It is therefore highly unlikely that a person will become infected in Canada. However, there have been cases of people who were infected with the Zika virus when they returned to Canada after traveling to areas where Aedes mosquitoes live and where there is active transmission of the virus.
Symptoms and Complications
Only about 20% of people infected with Zika virus have symptoms, and these are usually mild . The symptoms last about 2 to 7 days and include:
a fever. headaches, a lack of energy, pain in the muscles and joints, physical weakness, buttons on the skin, a redness of the eye.
Hospitalization or death due to infection with Zika virus is rare. Most people recover uncomplicated, but cases of neurological complications (such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes muscle weakness and can lead to paralysis) have been reported. Zika virus can cause microcephaly or other congenital anomalies in babies whose mothers have been infected with the virus during pregnancy.
If symptoms occur after you return from an area where the Zika virus spreads, it is important to consult a doctor. Since the usual symptoms of Zika infection may also have a number of other causes, a misdiagnosis can be made. The infection may then go for another condition - such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya or other infections that cause fever and pimples. The doctor can make a preliminary diagnosis of the Zika virus infection based on the symptoms, the places you traveled and the dates of your trips. Thereafter, the diagnosis will be confirmed by the results of a blood test performed during the first week of the infection.
Since there is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection, it is important not to be bitten by mosquitoes when traveling to areas where Zika virus is found. The suggestions below can help you avoid insect bites.
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing, blouses or dress shirts in the waist, pants and hat. Wear shoes or boots, not sandals. Cover the beds and cribs with a mosquito net.