Malaysians haven't yet developed an immunity to Zika virus. Which makes it likely that it could spread very quickly among Malaysians, the Health Ministry's Deputy Health DG Dr Lokman Halim Sulaiman has warned, saying that the deadly disease could spread here because of the high presence of Aedes mosquitoes in the country.
What's worse is that there's no quick "point of care test" available.
The Heath Ministry viewed the matter seriously because the virus has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect where infants are born with underdeveloped heads.
Also, Dr Lokman stressed that it is difficult to stop the spread of the virus to Malaysia due to its mild symptoms, difficulty in tracing infected people and also because there was also no quick "point of care test" available. Moreover, there is currently no vaccine available for the virus and only the symptoms of the virus can be treated.
In light of which, all visitors to the country – especially those from South and Central America and Malaysians returning from infected areas – who exhibit fever and spots to report themselves to the Quarantine Health Centre or the nearest Health Department as soon as they arrive in Malaysia.
The deadly Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of Aedes mosquitoes, also known as the Asian tiger mosquitoes. They are found all over the world except Canada and Chile. However, now that Malaysians have been warned about its spread, we are going to look at some of the most vital, and vexing, questions about Zika.
Zika virus was an obscure illness until recently. But now it's "spreading explosively" through the New World. Zika could infect up to 4 million people before the end of 2016. Although Zika has been known to science for seven decades, it's only now being seen as a major public-health danger due to its connection with birth defects.
All you need to do is get bitten by an infected mosquito to put yourself at risk. And since there's no cure for Zika, the only thing you can do to protect yourself is avoid mosquitoes in places where the virus is circulating.
1. First things first, what is Zika virus?
2. Deaths are rare in Zika and only one in five people infected is thought to develop symptoms. So What are these symptoms?
1. Mild fever
2. Conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes)
4. Joint pain
5. A rash
3. And where did Zika come from?
It was first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947.
The first human case was detected in Nigeria in 1954 and there have been further outbreaks in Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Most were small and Zika has not previously been considered a major threat to human health.
But in May 2015 it was reported in Brazil and has spread rapidly.
It has since also been reported in: Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.
"Its current explosive pandemic re-emergence is, therefore, truly remarkable."
4. How does it spread?
Zika is transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes. Evolved in Africa and Asia, respectively, but they're now common in warm, wet climates worldwide. They often live near buildings in urban areas and are usually active during the day, with peak biting periods in early morning and late afternoon.
The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth, although it's unclear how frequently that happens.
They are the same insects that spread dengue and chikungunya virus.
And, unlike the mosquitoes that spread malaria, they are mostly active during the day, so bed nets offer limited protection.
The WHO expects Zika to spread throughout the Americas, but other scientists have warned that countries in Asia could face large outbreaks too.
5. Does it spread only through mosquitoes?
As far as anyone knows, yes. But two cases have been linked to sexual activity.
However, just how two pies don’t make a party, two isolated incidents don’t confirm that Zika virus is sexually transmitted.
University of Michigan virologist Katherine Spindler said further analysis is needed to make the argument, and for now, public health officials should focus on mosquito control to stop Zika virus.
6. What drugs are available against Zika?
Until last year, Zika was so rare, and believed to be so mild, that nobody bothered to look for candidate drugs. Even now that the virus is surging, it's not obvious that there's a big market for an antiviral drug, because the vast majority of those infected have very few symptoms or none at all.
A vaccine against Zika may offer more hope of preventing microcephaly.
7. So is there a vaccine for Zika?
No. There is no vaccine or specific medicine for Zika virus infections, and the CDC doesn't recommend any particular antiviral treatment. For now, doctors can only provide supportive care and treat symptoms. Patients should get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and possibly take acetaminophen for pain or fever, but should avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
8. And when can we expect a vaccine?
That will take years. Several groups have begun to make candidate Zika vaccines, a process that will take at least several months. Most of these vaccine approaches are piggybacking on existing vaccines.
It may be at least 5 to 7 years before a Zika vaccine is commercially available.
9. So no drug, no vaccine. But is there a test to diagnose it?
There are no commercially available diagnostic tests for Zika and its close relation to dengue and yellow fever makes it prone to cross-reaction with antibody tests for those flaviviruses.
10. Then what can people do to stop the spread of the virus?
Stop mosquitoes from biting people.
Countries and communities can try to reduce mosquito populations by removing the small water reservoirs—such as flower pots, empty bottles, and discarded tires—in which Aedes mosquitoes like to breed.
People can also reduce their personal exposure—especially important for women who are or might become pregnant—by putting screens on windows, covering their skin, and using insect repellant. However, history has shown that the impact of mosquito control on epidemics is modest at best, and they're difficult to sustain.
Furthermore, here are more tips for avoiding Zika:
1. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
2. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
3. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
. Always follow the product label instructions.
. Reapply insect repellent as directed.
. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
4. If you have a baby or child:
. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
. Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
5. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
. If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
. Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
6. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
11. What to do if you have symptoms of Zika?
1. Get plenty of rest.
2. Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
3. Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
4. Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
12. What if a pregnant woman may have been exposed to Zika?
Doctors should ask all pregnant women about recent travel, the CDC says, and a Zika test should be performed on any who report two or more Zika symptoms — or whose ultrasound scans show signs of microcephaly — within two weeks of traveling to an affected country. (It's worth noting most infected people don't have symptoms, though, and it's unclear if fetuses are still at risk in that case.)
13. Could mothers receive a blood transfusion to prevent Zika?
Though it does work for other diseases, such as hepatitis A, transferring immunity via a blood transfusion isn’t the best or simplest solution. For instance, while the strategy was touted mightily during the Ebola outbreak, the latest studies suggest the technique wasn’t effective.
Source from says.com