Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful. However, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there’s evidence it causes birth defects – in particular, abnormally small heads (microcephaly).

Zika does not naturally occur in the UK. Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region, and the virus has now spread to South and Central America and the Caribbean.

Symptoms of the Zika Virus:

Most people don’t have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they are usually mild and last around two to seven days.

Commonly reported symptoms include:

  • rash
  • itching all over the body
  • fever
  • headache
  • joint pain (with possible swelling, mainly in the smaller joints of the hands and feet)
  • muscle pain

Treatment for the Zika Virus:

There is no specific treatment for Zika virus symptoms. Drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol may help relieve symptoms. If you feel unwell after returning from a country that has malaria as well as active transmission of Zika virus, you should seek urgent (same day) advice to help rule out a malaria diagnosis. If you remain unwell and malaria has been shown not to be the cause, seek medical advice.

What if I’m worried that my baby has been affected by Zika?

Speak to your midwife or doctor for advice. If you are still concerned after receiving assurances from your healthcare professional and feel anxious or stressed more than usual, you can ask your GP or midwife for referral to further counselling.

 


Yellow fever is a serious viral infection that is spread by certain types of mosquito. It’s mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and parts of the Caribbean. The condition can be prevented with a vaccination and is a very rare cause of illness in travellers. Six travellers from Europe and North America have died from yellow fever since 1996. None of them were vaccinated.

How it is spread:

The virus that causes yellow fever is passed to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that spread the infection are usually active and bite during daylight hours, from dusk until dawn, and are found in both urban and rural areas.

Yellow fever can’t be passed directly from person to person through close contact.

Yellow Fever Symptoms:

The symptoms of yellow fever occur in two stages. The initial symptoms develop three to six days after infection, and can include:

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • a headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • muscle pain, including backache
  • loss of appetite

This stage will usually pass after three to four days and most people will make a full recovery. However, around 15% of people go on to develop more serious problems, including jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), kidney failure and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach (causing blood in your vomit and stools).

Up to half of those who experience these symptoms will die.

Treating Yellow Fever:

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, but the symptoms can be treated while your body fights off the virus.

Headache, high temperature and muscle pain can be treated using painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You should also drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.