When I first heard about the Zika Virus, it was starting at Brazil before the Olympics. At that time, I wasn’t too worried about it as Brazil is so far away from Singapore. I would listen to the update on the news and hope that the virus will get contain soon.
However, just 2 weeks ago, the news reported that the very first case of Zika is discovered in Singapore. Immediately, I became concern about it. This is very near to home and this virus could spread really fast. This prompt me to find out more about this virus, what exactly is Zika Virus? How does it affect me and my family? Should I be worried if I’m not pregnant? While I was researching, I realize that you might be having the same queries as me. So I decided to share what I found in this article to answer the questions you have.
What is Zika Virus?
Zika Virus was first known in 1950 when people got infected by it. It is spread by the Aedes Mosquito which is also known to spread dengue fever, Chikungunya and yellow fever. These mosquitoes are mostly active in the daytime which means they will bite during the day.
Not everyone who’s infected with the virus will show symptoms. Those people who do develop the symptoms might experience fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain, headache. These will usually last for a few days up to a week. Although there’s no vaccine for the virus now, we might see some in the near future. Scientists are racing to come out with a vaccine for the virus. On the 4th Aug 2016, they have conducted a test on the human for the vaccine they developed.
How is Zika spread?
There are a few ways that Zika Virus can be spread. The most common way is being bitten by an Aedes Mosquito that is infected by this virus. It can also be transmitted by your sex partner. Another way is from a mother to her unborn baby. When a pregnant lady catches this virus, she might pass it onto her fetus which could cause a birth defect known as microcephaly.
Why is Zika a threat for people?
Zika virus can cause microcephaly. When a pregnant lady is infected by it, the baby she is carrying could develop this birth defect and be born with a smaller head than expected. There is currently no cure for microcephaly. Therefore, it is very important for a pregnant lady to protect herself against mosquito bites.
Although it is quite rare, an adult who is infected by the Zika virus might develop the Guillain–Barré syndrome (also known as GBS) where the immune system attacks the nerve cells. When this happen, it could cause muscle weakness and even paralysis.
Recently, a new study has found a strong link between the Zika virus and GBS. In countries that are experiencing a flare up of the Zika Virus also see an increase in the number of people affected by GBS. The increase is as high as 877 percent in Venezuela.
People who developed GBS will experience numbness in their arms, legs and face. In a severe case, patients have to use a ventilator until they recover.
How is the Government helping to control the mosquito population?
The Singapore Government has been doing a great job to keep the mosquito population down. Ever since the onset of Zika Virus here, they have been doing regular fumigation. They have also been educating the citizens on the virus and how to keep their home safe with the 5 Step Mozzie Wipeout.
With the aim to further decrease the mosquito population, the National Environment Agency (NEA), will be releasing male Aedes mosquitos that are infected with the bacteria called Wolbachia. When these infected male mosquitos mated with the females, it will cause the females to lay eggs that will not hatch. This experiment will start in Oct 2016.
What can you do to protect yourself?
As this virus is spread by an infected Aedes Mosquito, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being bitten by one. Use mosquito repellents and wear clothing that covers your arms, body and legs. You can use mosquito netting over your bed when you are sleeping. Alternatively, you can install a window screen and a mosquito curtain over the room’s door. This will keep the whole room free from mosquito and you can move around freeing instead of hiding in bed under the netting.
If you or your partner has been infected by the virus, you should refrain or practice safe sex by using a condom.
Some other measures to take will be to check for stagnant water in the house and pour it away. Only by eliminating the breeding place for mosquito can we keep their numbers down. Here’s a video on how to clear out the breeding place with this 5 step Mozzie Wipeout.