Zika virus is a disease far unknown by majority of Nigerians. The reason being that the disease is not common to the country unlike regulars like 'Malaria', 'cholera' and recently - the 'lassa fever'.
The Zika Virus was discovered in Nigeria in 1954. Studies then, between 1975 and1979 revealed that 40% of Nigeria adults and 25% of Nigerian children have antibodies to Zika virus, meaning they were protected against this virus. This wasn't the case in Brazil in 2015 as a Zika virus outbreak brought the attention of the world to this disease. The virus was first recognized in early 2015 in the metropolitan area of Maranhao. It is interesting to note here that the consequence of the virus was mildly known. In September 2015, there was an increase in the rate of microcephaly - where the child is born with a reduced mass of the brain and a reduced skull. This was subsequently linked to the virus. By November, the country had declared a national emergency on Zika virus but in 2017, the rate of infection was said to have dropped by 95%.
The Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by Aedes mosquitoes
which are more active in the day-time. Example of such are A. aegypti and A. albopictus. This unique kind of virus derives it's name from the Ziika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within the equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas. The result was the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic outbreak.
As stated before, Nigerians aren't used to this virus. It is still widely believed that the virus was only suffered by Asians and Americans. This is true for now but it might change anytime. This is due to the fact that the Aedes mosquito, the distributor of this disease, has much presence in Nigeria and most parts of the African continent. This calls for African states to increase vigilance as the places which these kind of mosquito is in excess is still trying to eradicate Malaria. This type of mosquito is noticeable for it's black color and white spots and wings averaging 1.6 to 3.8 millimeters in lenght.
It is important to note here that this virus when contacted has no cure (as at time of writing) and might come with mild symtoms. This has call on the Nigerian Center for Disease Control to action as it said that, at the moment, Zika fever is affecting a number of people across the country. They added that doctors still do not understand the nature of the virus and how to deal with it. This virus is related to the dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses. The Symptoms of Zika virus include -
- → Minor headaches;
→ General malaise;
→ Itching rash on the skin (At first on the face and then spreads all over the body);
→ Pain in muscles and joints ;
→ Hyperemia and inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis);
→ Pain in the eye area;
→ Intolerance to bright light.
The virus goes more ugly when a pregnant woman gets the disease. This means there's high probability that the virus is transfered to the child as well. This virus poses various developmental defects to the child of which the major concern is microcephaly. This state is accompanied by a child's retardation in mental development. This is one of the virus of which the cure is not known and it's diagnosis is as well not frequent in the country. Mode of transmission and prevention
After transmission through mosquito bites, another way is through sex. Zika can be transmitted from men and women to their sexual partners. This can be prevented through a good use of condom during sex or total abstainance from it. You can as well prevent the transmission of Zika virus by reducing your exposure to mosquito bites in areas where the disease occurs, and proper use mosquito nets.
Keep your suroundings clean and dry and mosquitoes do love moist environs. Other methods of preventing mosquito bites include the use of insect repellents and covering much of the body with clothing while outside. Travelling can be a major means the virus could be spread, stay away from Zika prone countries while travelling.
The USA's CDC in 2016 had advised men who have traveled to an area with Zika to use condoms or not have sex for at least six months after their return as the virus is still transmissible even if symptoms never develop. Treatment of Zika virus
There is no effective vaccine currently to cure Zika virus but in March 2016, 18 companies and institutions were developing vaccines against Zika although they saiid a vaccine is unlikely to be widely available for about ten years. Despite the cure currently unavailable, some of the symtoms can be effectively handled. They are:
- → Get plenty of rest.
→ Take Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for itching Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
→ Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or Paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
→ Do not take aspirin and other non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
→ If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider.
→ Do not use aspirin to treat children.