The next scare story

Hitting a newsstand near you should be reports of a terrifying ‘brain shrinking’ virus called Zika. For many people I’d be inclined to say “But you weren’t using it much anyway….” as cerebral activity does not seem to pose a major part of their day.  If you’ve ever spent much time in Vancouver Island traffic, this will be a given. Even pedestrians seem to be affected. Very few of them seem to even look where they’re going. I’ve seen them try to walk straight into vehicles already half way over crossings. Like the eyes are somehow not connected to the brain. Or Mr Brain is in “La-la-la” shutdown mode, which seems more likely.

Symptoms of Zika are; fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headache lasting about a week.  Rather like a nasty dose of influenza with added rash and red-eye.   Dying is not likely.  But hell, don’t take my word for it, read the CDC’s Zika information pages.

Now before you all go panicking to your doctors and clogging up surgery waiting rooms, know this; Zika is a tropical virus for which there is no current remedy. No vaccination, no specific drug therapy, and it’s completely random, spread only by mosquito bites. Yes, and the whole ‘brain shrinking’ thing only affects a percentage of babies born to an infected mother. Scary huh? Well not so much. A bite from an infected Yellow fever (Aedes_aegypti) mosquito has only a 20% chance of causing an infection and even if you do get a bout, the treatment is as follows;

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain
  • Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen, should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
  • If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.
  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.

That’s it; no need for panic. Usual anti mosquito regimen applies. Set up a zapper to attract and kill the little critters before they can become a nuisance, which is usually three days after rain. If your area is prone to mossies (Like most of BC), wear long sleeves and cover up after 9pm, use mosquito coils or other insecticide repellent. You’ll still get the odd nip, but de nada. Unless of course you’re a pregnant woman in an affected area, in which case, a bout of Zika during pregnancy, so some researchers suspect, can produce a child with microcephaly. But Brazil is the only place reporting such a phenomenon. So not going there while pregnant sounds like a modestly good idea. Otherwise your 2016 Olympic visit to the Rio games sounds pretty safe. Well, apart from Malaria, Dengue or Yellow fever, or any of the other infections endemic to that part of the world. In which case, stock up on DEET and use liberally.

Advertisements