What is the Zika virus? What are the symptoms?
Zika virus (ZIKV) belongs to a group of viruses called flaviviruses. The group also includes dengue and West Nile virus. Zika is present in tropical areas of Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands.
Like dengue, people are infected through mosquito bites. Only one in five develop symptoms. Usually the illness is mild, with symptoms of fever, rash, red eyes (conjunctivitis), joint pain, rash and muscle and joint pains. Most people recover in a week, and no specific treatment is available. There is growing evidence that the virus might be linked to neurological complications and birth defects.
How can it be prevented?
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, so it is important to prevent mosquito bites. Due to the potential risk of birth defects, this is especially important for pregnant women.