General Practice 2022

Zika: what é, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment

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Zika: what é, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment
Zika: what é, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment

Zika is a disease caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is also responsible for spreading other infectious diseases such as dengue or chikungunya, for example.

The most common symptoms of Zika tend to appear about 10 days after the mosquito bite and include a severe headache, fever above 38ºC and red spots on the body.

Currently there is no specific treatment to eliminate the virus from the body, however, it is important to consult a doctor as there are some medicines and care that can relieve symptoms, facilitating recovery.

Main symptoms

The first symptoms of Zika appear about 10 days after the mosquito bite and include headache, fever above 38ºC and red spots on the face. However, as the infection progresses, symptoms may become more specific, including:

  • Very severe headache that does not get better;
  • Sore throat;
  • Joint pain;
  • Muscle pain and excessive tiredness.

These signs last up to 5 days and can be confused with the symptoms of flu, COVID-19, dengue or rubella. Therefore, it is important to go to the emergency room when more than 2 of these symptoms appear, so that a medical evaluation can be carried out, in order to identify the cause and start the most appropriate treatment.

Learn about other symptoms caused by the Zika virus and how to alleviate them.

Symptoms of Zika in Babies

In the case of the baby, it can be a little more complicated to identify the symptoms of Zika. Therefore, it is very important that parents pay attention to signs such as:

  • A lot of crying;
  • Disquiet;
  • Appearance of red spots on the skin;
  • Fever above 37.5ºC;
  • Red eyes.

In addition, some women can be infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, which can interfere with neurological development and result in the baby being born with microcephaly, in which the baby's head and brain are smaller than normal for age. Learn how to recognize microcephaly.

If Zika is suspected, the child should be taken to the pediatrician for diagnostic tests and, thus, the most appropriate treatment can be initiated.

How to get the virus

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which usually bites in the late afternoon and evening. Watch the video to learn how to protect yourself from Aedes Aegypti:

But the virus can also pass from mother to child during pregnancy, which can cause a serious sequelae in the baby, called microcephaly. In addition, there is also the possibility that the virus can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with people who have the disease.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis to identify the presence of the Zika virus is done through blood tests that should be done, preferably, when there are symptoms of infection, which is when there is a greater chance of detecting the virus.

The most used test in the diagnosis of Zika virus is RT-PCR, which is a molecular test that can be performed using a blood, urine or placenta sample, in case it is performed in pregnant women. Although blood analysis is the most frequent, urine is more likely to be detected and is also easier to collect. Through RT-PCR, in addition to identifying the presence or absence of the virus, it is possible to verify the concentration at which the virus is present, this information being useful for the doctor to establish the best treatment.

Due to the similarity between the symptoms of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya, there is also a molecular diagnostic test that allows differentiating the three viruses, allowing the correct diagnosis and initiation of treatment. Learn more about the differences between Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.

How the treatment is done

There is no specific treatment or remedy to eliminate the Zika virus from the body, so rest and good hydration are usually indicated, which can be done through the ingestion of water, rehydration serum or juices, for example.

In addition, the doctor may also prescribe the use of some medications to relieve discomfort, such as:

  • Analgesics such as Paracetamol or Dipyrone, every 6 hours, to combat pain and fever;
  • Anti-allergy, such as Loratadine, Cetirizine or Hydroxyzine, to relieve redness of the skin, eyes and itching of the body;
  • Lubricant eye drops like Moura Brasil, to apply to the eyes 3 to 6 times a day.

Medicines containing acetylsalicylic acid, such as aspirin, should not be used, as in cases of dengue, because they can increase the risk of bleeding. Check out a list of drugs that are contraindicated in these two diseases.

See the following video on how to eat to recover from Zika faster:

Possible complications

The Zika virus can, in some cases, seriously affect the immune system, facilitating the development of some complications. The main diseases related to Zika are:

1. Microcephaly

It is believed that microcephaly can happen due to a change in the immune system of the pregnant woman that causes the virus to cross the placenta and reach the baby, causing brain malformation.

Usually, microcephaly is more severe when the woman was infected in the first trimester of pregnancy, but having Zika at any stage of pregnancy can lead to this malformation in the baby, so it is very important to avoid infection and follow all recommendations of the obstetrician.

2. Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré Syndrome can happen because, after infection by the virus, the immune system deceives itself and starts attacking he althy cells in the body. In this case, the cells of the nervous system are affected, which no longer have the myelin sheath, which is the main characteristic of Guillain-Barré.

So, months after the symptoms of the Zika virus subside and are controlled, some people may experience this syndrome that starts with a tingling sensation in some areas of the body and weakness in the arms and legs. Know how to identify the symptoms of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

In case of suspicion, you should go to the doctor quickly to prevent the progression of the syndrome, which can even cause paralysis of the body's muscles and breathing, being potentially fatal.

3. Lupus

Although apparently it does not cause Lupus, there has been one death of a patient diagnosed with Lupus after infection with the Zika virus.Therefore, although it is not known exactly what the link between this disease and lupus is, what is known is that lupus is an autoimmune disease, where defense cells attack the body itself, and there is a suspicion that the Zika infection can further weaken the organism and be potentially fatal.

Thus, all people who are diagnosed with Lupus, or any other disease that affects the immune system, should take extra care to protect themselves and not get Zika.

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