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:
- itching all over the body
- 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.