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Zika virus

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Zika Virus, an Aedes mosquito-borne flavivirus, has been spreading at a very high rate becoming a global public health concern (Gubler et al. 861). For instance, it is suspected to be associated with more than four thousand current cases of microcephaly among infants in Brazil. The virus was identified in Uganda in 1947 by a group of researchers who were by then doing some research on yellow fever (WHO). The single-stranded RNA virus belonging to flavivirus genus was first noticed in monkeys (Lanteri et al. 1907). After that, the infection was seen in humans in both Tanzania and Uganda. Zika virus was believed to have a low virulence; this was by analysis of the fatality rates. However, there was a widespread Zika virus exposure to humans by 1980s. Since then, outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific, Asia, America, and Africa.
Global Aspects of the Virus
Several measures are being taken by governments to manage the spread of the virus. International health organizations, for example, The World Health Organization (WHO), are collaborating with the ministries of health from different nations to prevent the virus spread and also find a long lasting cure to Zika virus (Lanteri et al. 1909).The World Health Organization (WHO) is also collaborating with officials of health from different countries around the globe to determine the virus’ research priorities.
To prevent the transmission of the virus, various governments around the globe are carrying out surveillance of the disease.

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The Zika Virus disease surveillance helps in managing its occurrence. This helps in monitoring its spread; therefore, the affected countries can control it more efficiently. By providing adequate surveillance of the virus, disease complications can be observed and efficiently treated before getting out of hand (Gubler et al. 863). There are efforts to make stronger the capacity of risk communication in different countries to make information sharing on the virus easy. This will lead to the nations empowering their ministries of health leading to commitment as required by the International Health Regulations.
Although there is no vaccine against Zika Virus yet, it can be prevented through other means in a population. The prevention strategies for this virus include blood screening, prevention of mosquito transmission, preventing Zika infection during the period of pregnancy and also preventing sexual transmission (Gubler et al. 863). Mostly, the virus prevention takes the form of with mosquito bites prevention. Therefore, people living in areas with high infestations of mosquitos are consequently advised to be always sleeping under treated mosquito nets. Prevention of oneself during sexual intercourse by use of condoms especially if the female is pregnant helps in a big way in the prevention of the Zika virus to the unborn child in case one of the partners is infected (CDC 1). Destroying and burning of mosquito breeding sites is also a significant step in preventing the virus spread. For the infants residing in areas prone to Zika virus, one is advised to give them long-sleeved clothing covering legs and arms, therefore, preventing them from being bitten by mosquitoes. Quarantine is normally not used as a way of combating the mosquito-borne disease.
Understanding Global Systems
Several global issues are contributing to the emergence of Zika virus. First is the increasing ease of global travel (Lanteri et al. 1913). Due to the high rate of travel between places, infected people can take Zika infections to new places. This is especially on pregnant women who end up passing the virus to their unborn child (CDC 1). Also, urban density and climate control conditions have had a hand in the spread of the Zika virus disease. The virus performs better in an environment that promotes its vector multiplication. This environment includes the tropical and subtropical regions. There is a high chance of mosquitos spreading the virus in these situations because they do not survive in a climate which is cold. Mosquitoes spreading Zika virus live at altitudes which are lower than 6500 feet.
There are several social issues arising from this disease. The first one is isolation. In some cases, Zika Virus disease patients are isolated to prevent them from spreading the disease to other people who are healthy (Lanteri et al. 1911). This makes them feel rejected by the society. However, experts do not recommend this method as its effectiveness is doubtable.
In some cases, Zika patients are subjected to stigma. This is a social construction in which people are defined in terms of their distinguishing characteristic and as a result, devaluing them (Lanteri et al. 1912). Zika virus patients are devalued as they are considered less productive in the society. Zika Virus stigma arises as these patients are, in many cases, held responsible for the disease. Many are assumed to be not protecting themselves from mosquito bites, therefore, leading to its contraction. This makes them feel unwanted, a situation which may lead to psychological problems.
The United Nations has continuously asked the countries in Latin America hit by Zika Virus to change their laws and allow women to access abortion (Gubler et al. 864). Although it has not been implemented yet, the suggestion has reignited a hot debate about rights on reproductive health, especially among the Catholics.
My Understanding of the Impact of the Diseases
On etiology, the Zika virus RNA is single-stranded and belongs to the genus Flavivirus. The transmission of Zika virus to human occurs through being bitten by an Aedes mosquito that is already infected. Aedes mosquito also transmits Chikungunya, West Nile, and Dengue viruses (WHO 1). Some detections of Zika virus RNA have also been made on other body fluids other than semen and blood(Gubler et al. 865). These include urine, amniotic fluid, ocular fluids and vaginal secretions. This virus persists longer in the blood than the plasma.It can endure up to eighty days in blood. Some of its detections have also been made on the infected woman’s genital tract, therefore, bringing some vertical transmission implications. The virus detection has also been made in breast milk though there are no cases of breastfeeding transmission yet.
The Zika virus is so similar to Dengue and West Nile viruses (WHO). It is icosahedral shaped and is enveloped in a diameter of 18-45 nanometers. The virus genome is a positive strand RNA being inside a capsid, and around it is a membrane. The Ribonucleic Acid has 10794 nucleotides encoding 3419 amino acids.
On the environmental requirements of Zika, rising temperatures bring about high mosquito-borne infection incidences (Lanteri et al. 1914). For example, heavy rains caused out of high temperatures bring about conducive environment for the breeding and multiplication of mosquitoes. Climatic condition changes bring about conditions which are suitable for the virus by prolonging mosquito biting season which leads to potential spread. The mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus will multiply faster as the climate warms. In a warm climate, the number of working hours changes. People tend to go to work early in the morning and stay until night making them more vulnerable to mosquito bites. They also change their clothing in warmer weathers. Many people end up wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts, therefore, therefore exposing themselves to more mosquito bites.
The Aedes mosquito is the only known vector of the disease. These include Aegypti and albopictus. The life cycle of Zika Virus can best be explained by looking at the life of the mosquito that spreads it. The Zika virus spreading mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, goes through a complete metamorphosis starting with an egg, then larvae, pupae and lastly the adult stage (Qian et al. 953). Its life cycle can be completed between one and a half to a maximum period of three weeks.
The Female Aedes Aegypti mosquito produces one hundred to two hundred eggs per batch. The blood meal determines the number of eggs laid. Eggs are laid on wet and dump surfaces for example discarded bottles, tree holes, and tires. The eggs are one millimeter long, smooth, and oval. The laid eggs survive in a dry state for a very long time even for more than a year. They hatch when put or submerged in water; therefore, taking control of this virus is very difficult.
After eggs are hatched, the larvae feed on the organic particles found on the water. These include microscopic organisms like algae. The larvae spend most of their time on the surface of the water but move to containers’ surfaces when are in disturbance or when feeding. The Male larvae conclude their development at a faster rate than the females, therefore, pupating earlier.
The pupae stage is entered by the larvae immediately after the fourth instar. These pupae do respond to stimuli as they are mobile. They do not take any food and take around two days to develop fully. After that, there is the emergence of adults. The pupa abdomen expands from ingesting air thus making it possible for the pupal case to split open, enabling the head to emerge out first.
The symptoms of Zika infection include conjunctivitis, joint/muscle pain, mild fever and skin rash. These become visible within two weeks of the initial infection. In some cases, about nine out of ten people with Zika infections do not experience its symptoms at all. Hence, they may not know whether they have it (Qian et al. 955). Hence, counting those with visible symptoms is not an accurate estimate of the number of people infected.
To date, no known medicine cures the Zika virus. Treatment includes giving a lot of supportive care for stomach symptoms, fever and body aches. It is vital to take oral rehydration therapy and a right amount of rest. Tylenol is used as the preferred fever and aches reliever. One should avoid ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen and all other inflammatory drugs that are non- steroidal. This is because if Dengue virus is also in the body, these drugs might increase the bleeding risk (Qian et al. 954). If women are also infected with this virus during the pregnancy period, a qualified doctor should closely monitor the development of the fetus.
Despite Zika virus having no specific medicine curing it, this virus can otherwise be prevented. This is through the prevention strategies of Zika virus which include blood screening, prevention of mosquito transmission, preventing Zika infection during the period of pregnancy and also preventing unprotected sexual transmission. Mostly the virus prevention goes along with mosquito bites prevention (Gubler et al, 863). Therefore people living in areas with high infestations of mosquitoes are advised to always sleep under treated mosquito nets. Protection of oneself during sexual intercourse by use of condoms, especially if the female is pregnant, helps in a big way in prevention of the Zika virus to the unborn child in case one of the partners is infected (CDC 1). Destroying and burning of mosquito breeding sites is also a significant step in preventing the virus spread. For the infants residing in areas prone to Zika virus, one is advised to give them long-sleeved clothing covering legs and arms, therefore, preventing them from being bitten by mosquitoes.
Conclusion
The cause of Zika disease is a virus primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. It was first identified in Uganda in the year 1947. Mostly, its virus prevention goes along with mosquito bites prevention. Various global issues are contributing to the emergence of Zika virus. These include the increasing ease of global travel, urban density, and climate change conditions. Zika virus can be prevented through blood screening, prevention of mosquito transmission, preventing Zika infection during the period of pregnancy and also preventing unprotected sexual transmission.
Works Cited
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Zika Virus.” https://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/index.html. Accessed 15 January 2018.
Gubler, Duane J., et al. “History and Emergence of Zika Virus.” Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol.1, 216, 2017 Supplement, pp. S860-S867. Web.
Lanteri, Marion C., et al. “Zika Virus: A New Threat to the Safety of the Blood Supply with Worldwide Impact and Implications.” Transfusion, vol. 56, no. 7, July 2016, pp. 1907-1914. Web.
Xuyu, Qian, et al. “Using Brain Organoids to Understand Zika Virus-Induced Microcephaly.” Development, vol. 144, no. 6, 15 Mar. 2017, pp. 952-957. Web.
World Health Organization. “Zika Virus: Key Facts.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/. Accessed 15 January 2018.

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