The Zika virus causes very mild infections and isn’t harmful for most people. However, it can be particularly serious for pregnant women, as it can cause birth defects such as an abnormally small head. Read the following article to find out everything you need to know about the Zika virus and how you should protect yourself.
The Zika virus is not common in the UK. The main affected areas include Africa, Pacific Islands, South and Central America, parts of South and Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. If you are travelling to any of the affected areas it doesn’t mean you are going to contract the virus, consult your travel clinic for advice and vaccination that is tailored to your needs.
As previously mentioned, pregnant women are the most vulnerable when it comes to the Zika virus. Pregnant women should avoid all non-essential travel to any of the high-risk areas and consider postponing all non-essential travel to moderate risk areas until after pregnancy. Pregnant women should always discuss their travel plans with their GP and monitor the growth of the baby at their return, even if they did not feel unwell. If they decide to travel to an affected area or their partners have recently returned from high risk zone, a condom should be used during vaginal, anal and oral sex.
Women who are trying to get pregnant should take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes while travelling. They should also avoid getting pregnant whilst in high-risk areas and 8 weeks after returning. It is also recommended they take folic acid for 28 days before trying to get pregnant.
The main symptoms of the Zika virus include:
- lower back pain
- muscle pain
- pain behind the eyes
- red eyes
- swollen, painful joints
How to protect yourself
If you travel to an affected area you can protect yourself using an insect repellent containing DEET, covering your body with loose clothes and sleeping under a mosquito net. You should consult your travel clinic 6 weeks before you travel.
How to treat Zika Virus
There is no clear treatment for Zika virus except for drinking plenty of water and take paracetamol to alleviate the symptoms. If you are returning from a country which is at high risk of Zika virus as well as malaria, however, you should always consult a doctor as soon as you start experiencing symptoms to rule out the latter.
If you are travelling to any of the affected areas by the Zika virus, please book an appointment, we would be happy to help.