Ever since the birth of the first U.S. newborn Zika Virus case last May 31, 2016, people have been alarmed and worried about the possibility of contracting the disease. While it is communicable, the causes of the zika virus disease and it’s transmission has very low rates, and most likely than not, you won’t contract the virus at all.
So what are the causes of the Zika Virus Disease?
Zika virus disease is an emerging infectious disease caused a virus from the Flavivirus genus, Flaviviridae family. Zika virus is spread among people mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which is also the mosquito responsible for spreading dengue and other pacific mosquito-borne infections.
How is Zika Virus spread?
The mosquitoes that carry Zika are primarily daytime biters, but sometimes they also bite at night. When a mosquito bites a person already infected with Zika, it becomes infected. An infected mosquito can now infect other people that it bites.
Other ways Zika Virus is spread
- During sexual intercourse with a man infected with Zika virus.
- From a pregnant woman to her fetus who is infected during her pregnancy or around the time of birth.
- Through blood transfusion, but no confirmed cases have been reported through this mode of transmission.
Interesting facts about the Zika Virus
Symptoms are often mild
Most Zika cases don’t show the symptoms of the Zika virus and most probably won’t even know that they have contracted the virus. The most common symptoms are mild — red eyes, sore joints, rashes, and fever, and these usually just last less than a week. Very Few people die from the disease or are hospitalized from the virus. In extremely rare cases the virus has been connected to some brain and spinal cord infections like Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but disease researchers are still studying the link. The biggest problem is the birth defect that Zika virus causes when the mothers are infected during pregnancy.
Zika is spread less frequently than the common cold
Most cases of the Zika virus are started by mosquito bites. The only ways Zika can be spread from human to human are infection of the mother during pregnancy or through sexual contact with an infected man. It is also highly probable to contaminate others through blood transfusion, although with the screening process for blood products, it should not be a reason for worry.
An outbreak of Zika in a new area is not likely to happen
For an outbreak to take place in the United States and other western countries not originally infected with Zika virus, an Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito would have to bite a Zika-infected person within the first week that person contracted the disease. Then it must survive long enough for the virus to multiply inside them before biting someone else. That cycle would have to be repeated many times, and according to the CDC, as the mosquitoes have a life span of only three weeks, this is not likely to happen anytime soon.
You become immune once you have the Zika Virus
Like other infectious diseases, once you contract the virus your body makes antibodies that make you immune to that same disease the next time you come across it. People who were previously infected with the Zika virus once are likely immune from getting infected again.