Zika is a viral infection transmitted by daytime biting mosquitoes, mostly biting around mid-morning and late afternoon (dusk). These mosquitoes bite an infected person and then spread the infection to others when they bite again.
Zika virus is present in several continents. Human cases have been reported in Africa since its discovery in 1968 affecting countries including Egypt, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. In Asia known countries of risk include India, Thailand and Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia Indonesia and the Philippines. Since 2015 Zika virus was reported in central and South America with outbreaks affecting many countries such as Brazil that are continuing today. Associated with this outbreak has been the widely reported issue of Zika contracted during pregnancy resulting in brain malformations in babies.
Most infections do not cause any symptoms, however if they do they are do they are generally mild and self-limiting lasting a few days. Symptoms can include a fever, rash, headache, muscle and bone aches and conjunctivitis. Symptoms are similar to that of Dengue fever.
Protect yourself against the mosquito by taking the following precautions:
• Cover up arms and legs - wear long loose fitted clothing.
• Apply insect repellents containing DEET to exposed skins and re apply frequently - always apply over suncream (DEET can also be used safely in pregnancy)
• Treat your clothing with insecticides made with permethrin – it will kill any mosquitoes that land on your clothes.
• Use air conditioning, seal windows and plug-in or mosquito coils to kill any mosquitoes that might get into your room.
• Sleep under mosquito nets if in basic accommodation or require extra protection