Zika virus: What it is and how is it spread?

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, being a serious threat in the case of pregnant women because it can damage the baby’s brain.

zika virus

Except for some sporadic cases in Asia and Africa Zika virus was, for the most part, virtually unknown. Until now. The Zika virus, whose sting, as indicated does not entail health risks for the general population, but it can carry them in the case of pregnant women, has jumped of continent, up to Latin America. In Brazil, in recent months, they have diagnosed more than 4,000 newborns with microcephaly.

The symptoms of the bite of an infected mosquito usually appear after a few days and can last up to a week.

The most common symptoms are fever, joint pain, weakness, headache, conjunctivitis and myalgia. In some cases, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite may also occur. However, 80% of people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms.

The Zika virus, in medical terms, is a monocatenary RNA virus, similar to dengue fever, the yellow fever, West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis. The virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda. The transmission occurs through the bite of infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito after having fed on the blood of a person with the virus. There have also been cases of sexual, perinatal (from mother to fetus) and blood transmission. The virus is not transmitted through breastfeeding. These types of mosquitoes are capable of living in indoor and outdoor spaces.

The Zika virus is dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause serious disorders in the fetus, such as malformations of the central nervous system (microcephaly, hydrocephalus, cerebral atrophy, among others). After infecting the blood of the mother, the virus can attack the brain of the fetus.

The prevention also plays an important role. Thus, for example, it is recommended to all pregnant women should avoid travel to areas where the Zika virus is transmitted in an active way. If it is necessary to travel should take some measures like avoid the times and places with more presence of mosquitoes, wear clothing that protects most of the body, use mosquito nets and repellents.


There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the Zika virus. There are simply treating the symptoms are as bearable as possible, with rest and taking acetaminophen or paracetamol (after advice from doctor) for fever.