How To Know If You've Been Infected By Zika

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zika health

It's a scary disease, but it won't kill you.

One of the biggest recent health scares in modern times, alongside frightening illnesses like Ebola, were the sudden and horrible outbreaks of Zika in the late 2000s, a viral trend which, unfortunately, both continued growing in intensity and spread to new areas of the world it had never been identified in before.

Zika, a virus carried by mosquitoes, has been studied since the late 1940s and was identified in Rhesus monkeys in the Ugandan forest of Zika, where its name originated. The virus was first found in humans in the early 1950s, but a researcher of the virus later reported that the effects of the resulting illness were “mild” and flu-like.

However, that changed in the recent spread of Zika. Its first known outbreak via mosquito transmission has gone far west from Uganda to Mexico, with fear that it will continue climbing throughout the United States and other areas of the world.

Photo: CBC

Zika doesn't present any other symptoms than that of a mild flu, which often doesn't prompt people to go to the doctor. It is difficult to diagnose at home, and many of those infected with it don’t even realize they are, which can be a bit scary when the consequences of this infection are so frightening for women in particular, especially those that are pregnant.

Zika has been linked to a devastating in-utero condition that affects the fetus while it develops. This condition, known as microcephaly, causes children to be born with smaller than usual heads and a host of other tragic issues due to their underdeveloped brains.

Because of this, pregnant women are more at-risk than men when it comes to Zika infections. They need to be more aware of their surroundings, especially if they live in an area where the illness has been reported.

So how can you tell if you’ve gotten the virus? The signs of infection in Zika are, as reported, usually mild and can deceptively seem like the flu. People infected with Zika experience mild fevers and rashes, joint or muscle pain, itchy red eyes, and possibly a headache. Death from Zika is rare. It only lasts for about a week.

Photo: CDC

The best way to determine if you have Zika is to look for flu-like symptoms immediately following a mosquito bite. Since Zika is also a sexually transmitted infection while someone is actively showing signs of the virus, pregnant woman experiencing these symptoms after unprotected sex should check with their doctors to make certain they are safe.

So far, Zika has mostly been found in United States citizens as travel cases — meaning the patients were infected while traveling to areas where the virus-laden mosquitoes were prevalent. But the CDC recently issued an advisory against pregnant women traveling to Miami, FL, as local mosquitoes there have been found to contain Zika. 

Check out the video below to find out more about Zika: