(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
People – especially pregnant women – traveling to South and Central America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands should take precautions to avoid getting mosquito bites, the Health Ministry recommended on Thursday.
An obscure disorder called Zika virus disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, has appeared in some of the countries in these regions. It is expressed by fever, rash, joint pain and redness in the eyes Strategies to avoid being bitten include wearing longsleeved clothing, sleeping under mosquito nets, being in rooms with screens and applying mosquito repellent.
The ministry said the disease can cause severe neurological complications such as the Guillain– Barré syndrome. Infection during pregnancy could also cause serious neurological defects to the unborn child, such as microcephaly, abnormal smallness of the head associated with incomplete brain development.
The infection, initially transmitted by the bite of Aegypti – Aedes/Albopictus Aedes mosquitoes, can be further transmitted during delivery of the newborn and intimate relations, as well as from an infected blood transfusion from a symptomless donor. The incubation period is between three and 12 days.
There is no treatment or specific vaccination against the rare viral infection, only supportive treatment. The Brazilian health ministry recently reported an increase in unusual cases of microcephaly after an outbreak of the disease in the state.
French Polynesia also reported an increase in neural congenital defects.