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Zika virus

  1. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international public health emergency over the spread of the Zika virus. The virus is said to be especially dangerous for pregnant women. But what exactly is the Zika virus? And what are the symptoms if you get infected with it?

  1. The Zika virus is transmitted by so-called Aedes mosquitoes. The virus is not unknown. It was first found in Uganda and Tanzania in 1947. Since May 2015, however, there has been an outbreak of the virus in Brazil. This outbreak is rapidly spreading across countries in South and Central America. At the same time, in the second half of 2015, doctors reported an increase in newborn babies with suspected microcephaly, a condition in which the child has a small skull and neurological abnormalities. There is no scientific evidence that these abnormalities are caused by the Zika virus, but there is a strong suspicion that there is a link between the Zika virus and growth problems in fetuses. WHO speaks of a global emergency.

  2. The Zika virus is transmitted by so-called Aedes mosquitoes. The virus is not unknown. It was first found in Uganda and Tanzania in 1947. Since May 2015, however, there has been an outbreak of the virus in Brazil. This outbreak is rapidly spreading across countries in South and Central America. At the same time, in the second half of 2015, doctors reported an increase in newborn babies suspected of having microcephaly, a condition in which the child has a small skull and neurological abnormalities. There is no scientific evidence that these abnormalities are caused by the Zika virus, but there is a strong suspicion that there is a link between the Zika virus and growth problems in fetuses. WHO speaks of a global emergency.

What is the Zika virus?

  1. The Zika virus causes Zika fever. The virus is related to viruses that cause dengue (dengue fever), yellow fever, West Nile fever, and Japanese encephalitis. The complaints also resemble chikungunya. The disease is usually quite mild and passes on its own. No treatment is possible.

What are the symptoms?

  1. After a bite from an infected mosquito, it takes about three to twelve days for someone to develop symptoms. But not everyone notices it. About one in five get complaints. Possible symptoms are: fever, acute, but usually not high non-purulent inflammation of the eye muscle and joint pain, especially in the hands and feet skin rash, often starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body and less often: headache, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain Most people have fully recovered after a week. Complications occur in very rare cases. The following complications have been described during outbreaks: Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is still unknown how often it occurs, but this is probably quite rare. There are indications of a link between infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy and a brain abnormality (microcephaly) in the unborn child. Whether this abnormality is actually due to an infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy is still being investigated.

  2. After a bite from an infected mosquito, it takes about three to twelve days for someone to develop symptoms. But not everyone notices it. About one in five get complaints. Possible symptoms are: fever, acute, but usually not high non-purulent inflammation of the eye muscle and joint pain, especially in the hands and feet skin rash, often starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body and less often: headache, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain Most people are fully recovered after a week. Complications occur in very rare cases. The following complications have been described during outbreaks: Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is still unknown how often it occurs, but this is probably quite rare. There are indications of a link between infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy and a brain abnormality (microcephaly) in the unborn child. Whether this abnormality is actually due to an infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy is still being investigated.

Is the Zika virus contagious?

  1. The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedus mosquitoes. When such a mosquito bites an infected person, the mosquito becomes infected with the virus. This mosquito can then transfer it to other people. There is also evidence of transmission (from mother to child) during pregnancy and sexual transmission in unprotected intercourse (because the virus has been detected in semen). It is also thought that transmission via saliva and blood transfusion can occur. However, these forms of transmission are still being investigated extensively.

  2. The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedus mosquitoes. When such a mosquito bites an infected person, the mosquito becomes infected with the virus. This mosquito can then transfer it to other people. There is also evidence of transmission (from mother to child) during pregnancy and sexual transmission in unprotected intercourse (because the virus has been detected in semen). It is also thought that transmission via saliva and blood transfusion can occur. However, these forms of transmission are still being studied in detail.

Where is it?

  1. The US Public Health Institute CDC advises pregnant women not to go to areas where they could be infected with the Zika virus for the time being. This warning applies to, among others, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. This advice also applies to a number of Caribbean countries, as well as to Cape Verde and Samoa.

Are there any Dutch people with the Zika virus?

  1. According to the RIVM, infection with Zika virus has only been established in people who contracted the virus abroad in the Netherlands. So far, this concerns more than 30 travelers, but probably many more people have been infected. The spread of the Zika virus in the Netherlands is unlikely because the responsible mosquitoes do not occur in the Netherlands.

  2. According to the RIVM, infection with Zika virus has only been established in people who contracted the virus abroad in the Netherlands. So far this concerns more than 30 travelers, but probably many more people have been infected. The spread of the Zika virus in the Netherlands is unlikely because the responsible mosquitoes do not occur in the Netherlands.

What should you do if you think you have the Zika virus?

  1. Travelers returning from regions where the Zika virus is currently prevalent may possibly be infected with the virus. Usually you do not notice that you are infected, sometimes you get mild symptoms that disappear by themselves. Getting sick and possibly taking paracetamol to relieve the complaints is enough. Contact your doctor if you are pregnant and have complaints.

Is there a vaccine against the virus?

  1. There is no vaccine against the virus yet. People can only protect themselves by wearing covering clothing and using a mosquito repellent.



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