A virus is a non-living agent that infects a host cell. Viruses are made up of a nucleic acid within a protein coat, and, in some instances, a membranous envelope. The only way that a virus can replicate is when it is inside of the host cell. The zika virus is a retrovirus that is a part of the flavivirus family.
Viruses that are included in this family are the yellow fever, dengue, west nile, and many more. Zika was first noticed and found “in the Zika forest, Uganda, 1947.”(nih diseases-condition) When this virus was first reported in the United States, it was found in Florida in 2016 and traveled to Texas that same year.
People have travelled to these countries, such as Brazil during the Rio 2016 olympics, that have carried the mosquitos or people with the viruses themselves and brought zika back to the country that the now-infected people reside in. Even though no olympic athlete from any country actually brought back the virus to their home country, many decided not to go to Brazil under the circumstances.The Zika virus is a vectored disease and it is spread initially by the bite of an infected mosquito, more specifically, an infected aedes aegypti mosquito.
Other ways that this virus spreads is through the exchange of bodily fluids, for example blood transfusions or intercourse. A woman who is pregnant while being exposed to the zika virus can pass this disease to her child. “Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
“(cdc 12 Jan. 2018) The babies that are diagnosed with microcephaly have smaller heads than the average baby would, these babies experience troubles with basic movements, such as walking and standing, as well as cognitive issues, vision failure, and so many more. The zika virus can cause zika fever in which people have mild symptoms, such as fever, headaches, rash, muscle pain, conjunctivitis, and more. These symptoms only last about a week and are not as severe as most diseases. “People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.” (cdc symptoms 1 may 2017)For the virus to begin its attack, the mosquito that carries the zika virus will bite the human that it will soon infect. The mosquito will insert it’s tube shaped snout into the human’s skin and deposits the properties from the virus into the skin of the human as it is looking for blood to feed on.
Fibroblasts, which are the tissue cells that assist in the healing of wounds are the cells that the zika virus infects along with other skin cells. “Researchers demonstrated that the virus uses autophagy to replicate, a mechanism consisting of the partial degradation of cytoplasm by the cell itself.”(Hamell, Rodolphe July 2015) The cells are usually led to programmed cell death due to these events, which allow for the pathogenic agent to continue to spread. “The zika virus can sometimes reach the nervous system from the bloodstream, directly infecting the nerve cells nestled there.” (Cara Ed. 4 Aug.
2016) Zika is capable of affecting the brain in not only a fetus, but in an adult as well and can cause the brain to swell to a major extent as well as cause many other neurological problems.There is no true medical way to simply cure the Zika virus and zika fever all together. Treating the symptoms of zika fever may include drinking a lot of water and getting a lot of rest as well as taking “medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.”(cdc treatment 30 Aug 2017) Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this virus but the only way to be cured is to wait about a week or so for the symptoms to slowly go away and become less severe.There are many ways to prevent oneself from obtaining Zika fever and the virus. Staying away from someone who carries the virus as well as that person’s bodily fluids can prevent a person from catching any symptoms.
Immediately disinfect any surface that is contaminated by an infected person’s fluids, one can try to stay away from the countries or areas where the aedes aegypti mosquito may reside, and it is extremely important for one to wash their hands after caring for a person who is or could be infected.