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The Zika virus was first detected in 1947 but has now hit the news headlines because doctors are worried that it may be linked to causing abnormalities in the growing baby if the mother catches the virus while she is pregnant.
The Zika virus was first detected in 1947 but has now hit the news headlines because doctors are worried that it may be linked to causing abnormalities in the growing baby if the mother catches the virus while she is pregnant. In areas of Latin America including Brazil where the virus has been detected there has been a steep increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, an abnormally small head with associated brain damage.
The Zika virus is a tropical disease with similarities to dengue and yellow fever. It is carried by the mosquito, and you can catch it if you are bitten by a mosquito that has bitten someone else who has the virus. The virus is spreading rapidly having previously been found in areas of Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands but now found in South and Central America with fears that it will soon reach the US and Europe.
One of the problems that we face is that the virus can cause no symptoms at all and the infected person doesn't know that she has caught the virus - only 1 in 5 people who have been infected will experience symptoms. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash and joint and muscle pain or it causes just mild viral-type symptoms similar to that of a cold or flu-like illness. The worry is that the infection passes from the pregnant woman to the unborn baby and can potentially cause problems with the growth of the brain and head.
For this reason, pregnant women should consider whether travel to infected areas is essential, or whether they should postpone travel or leave the area. Anyone who is in an infected area should take extreme anti-mosquito precautions by day and night.
Although there is no treatment for the virus, women who are pregnant and who have been infected should have ultrasound tests to check the baby's growth.
Women who have returned from an infected area within 2 weeks and who have cold or flu-like symptoms can have a test done via Medichecks laboratory to detect this infection. There are 2 tests for Zika virus, one which uses a urine sample and one a blood sample. To find out whether you are eligible for a test, please call our office on 03450 600 600.