Zika is a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes a mild fever. Since the 1950s, Zika has been prevalent in equatorial Africa and Asia. It has since spread to other parts of the world. Once a person is infected, it is possible to transmit it from one person to another through sexual intercourse or a mother passing it on to her fetus. However, the main mode of transmission is through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zika virus shows no symptoms in 80% of cases, but that does not mean there is no risk for complications. The other 20% have symptoms that typically last from one day up to approximately one week.
If you contract Zika virus and show symptoms, a low-grade fever is not unusual. This type of fever does not usually exceed 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and chills can accompany the fever. Try over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, to bring down the fever, but avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It's best to clear any medications with a health care professional before taking them.
Besides a fever, you may also get persistent headaches. They may present as a dull throbbing ache or, in some cases, a sharp shooting pain. Either way, the pain should decrease when you take a fever medication, such as acetaminophen, but talk to a physician first.
Arthralgia is joint pain and stiffness. Unlike arthritis, which involves inflammation of affected joints, those infected with Zika experience joint pain in the smaller joints, such as in the hands and feet. This pain typically persists longer than the duration of the fever and may be the earliest symptom to appear. Resting and taking doctor-prescribed medication can ease the discomfort. Though not overly incapacitating, Zika fever with arthralgia can be uncomfortable for people with weaker constitutions.
Muscle pain, or myalgia, is a notable symptom of Zika. Most people describe it as an unrelenting body ache that varies from mild to severe. As the virus becomes more potent, muscle pains and joint aches may become more intense. Only take medications for pain recommended by your physician.
In some cases, individuals also develop a skin rash with raised or pigmented bumps. You might feel tingling and itchiness in the affected area that begins in the trunk and spreads to the face and limbs. The rash usually starts 3 to 12 days after a bite from an infected mosquito and fades as the infection loses potency, though in some cases, scars remain.
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is another symptom of the Zika virus infection. When you have conjunctivitis, there's a pink to red discoloration of the whites of your eyes accompanied by a watery discharge. A small number of people with conjunctivitis due to Zika develop a more serious eye condition called uveitis, which can lead to blindness.
Asthenia is another symptom that is described as a physical weakness and loss of strength. The symptom is due to muscular weakness and felt most severely in the post-recovery phase. Those with Zika virus feel weak and tired for several weeks after their illness. Proper diet and fluid consumption can help decrease the duration of this symptom.
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