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Zika Virus Infection


Zika virus infection, also known as Zika or Zika fever, is spread by mosquito bites. The virus is almost similar to the dengue virus and West Nile virus. In the majority of cases, the Zika virus leads to mild symptoms. Some people may not even develop any symptoms despite being carriers of the virus. Certain cases of the Zika virus can progress to some serious complications if the infection is not diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage. 


Zika virus infection is caused by the Zika virus, which is transferred to human beings via mosquito bites. Aedes aegypti are the mosquitos involved in the spread of this infection. If this virus enters your blood, you can spread this infection to others by blood transfusion, sexual contact, or using contaminated syringes or needles.


Pregnant women can pass the infection to their developing baby if they get infected. This can prove dangerous because this may cause microcephaly in the fetus. It can also lead to other birth defects and miscarriages in some females. 

Risk Factors And Epidemiology

One major factor that increases the risk of Zika virus infection is living in tropical or subtropical areas where cases of Zika virus have been reported. Some high-risk areas include Central, South, and North America, regions of Pacific Islands, Islands near West Africa, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, and countries in Asia. If you are traveling to any of the affected regions, your risk of getting infected is also higher. This way, the virus spreads to other parts of the world as well. Unprotected sex with an infected person or blood transfusion can also put you at risk.


According to research, only 1 among 5 infected persons shows symptoms of Zika virus infection. This virus can affect anyone but can cause serious complications in pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system. 

Signs And Symptoms

After being bitten by a carrier mosquito, it can take 2 to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Many people remain asymptomatic. The symptoms of this infection are mild, which include fever, rash, pain in joints, and conjunctivitis. Less common symptoms of Zika virus infection include abdominal pain, headache, muscle weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and pruritus. 


The diagnosis of Zika virus infection begins with a detailed history of your symptoms. Your doctor will likely ask about your recent traveling history to high-risk regions. If you engaged in sexual activity in those regions, it is important to mention it to your doctor. The onset and duration of symptoms are noted. Specific diagnostic tests include ELISA and PCR, by which the causative virus is detected. Other lab tests such as CBC, ESR, and LFTs can help determine the infection's severity.


If you are a pregnant woman who has been to high-risk areas, ask your doctor to run diagnostic tests even if you don’t have symptoms. Your doctor may also perform an ultrasound or amniocentesis to look for possible fetal complications. 

Differential Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of Zika virus infection resemble other diseases caused by viruses of the same family. These diseases include dengue virus, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile virus, and Japanese encephalitis. The distinction is that Zika virus infection presents with milder symptoms than other diseases. Further differentiation should be done on the basis of diagnostic tests. 


Treatment of Zika virus infection is focused on symptomatic care. There are no medicines to cure the Zika virus. If you have been infected with this virus, the best thing to do is rest well and drink plenty of fluids to keep your body replenished. It can take one to two weeks to fully recover from this infection.

Medicines are generally not prescribed for Zika virus infection unless you have a high fever or pain. Antipyretics such as acetaminophen can be taken for fever. Analgesics other than NSAIDs or aspirin are prescribed until the risk of dengue fever has been ruled out. This is because NSAIDs and aspirin can cause complications if infected with the dengue virus. 


Infection with Zika virus can lead to some complications, even in asymptomatic adults. The greatest risk is of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome. It can occur in males or non-pregnant females. Pregnant females can develop fetal complications or other issues related to the child’s birth. Cases of miscarriage have been noticed among infected females. Fetus-related complications include microcephaly, brain damage, eye disorders, joint issues with reduced motion, and impaired muscle tone. 


The prognosis of this infection is really good. The majority of the patients achieve complete recovery after one to two weeks without developing any complications. Pregnant women need to be kept on a close check for fetal abnormalities if diagnosed with Zika virus infection. 


There is no vaccine available yet against the Zika virus infection. Preventive measures should be taken if you plan to travel to an area with active cases of Zika virus infection. If you’re pregnant or planning to conceive, it is suggested to avoid traveling as much as possible to reduce the risk of Zika Virus and other infections. If you plan to travel to such regions, practice safe sex methods. In case you require a blood transfusion, make sure that the blood you’re receiving is free of infections. Wear clothes covering maximum skin areas and use a mosquito repellant cream or spray. Avoid areas with standing water or unsanitary collection of water.

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 04, 2023.



Zika virus (who.int)


Zika Virus | CDC


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