Zika Virus Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Recently, it has struck on to us on the media that there is yet a new virus transmitted by mosquitoes coming into our cities. Zika virus is a disease transmitted by a mosquito from a genre called Aedes, which usually bites in the early mornings and late evenings. People who get sick with Zika can present a mild fever, a rash and conjunctivitis, lasting from 2 to 7 days. Currently, there are no vaccines or specific treatment for this disease. The best way to prevent it is avoiding mosquito bites. Zika virus is known to be in Africa, America, Asia, and the Pacific.  

Zika virus is an emergent virus that was first identifies in Uganda in 1947 while monitoring Yellow Fever. Later, in 1952, it was found in human beings in Uganda and Tanzania. It belongs to the genre Flavivirus.


After the mosquito’s bite, there is a window of time called the incubation period, which goes from the time of exposure to the beginning of the symptoms, but its length is not clear for Zika virus, probably a few days. The symptoms are similar to those of other different infections by arbovirus, such as dengue and they include fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint aches, and headaches, lasting a period that goes from 2 to 7 days.

During the big outbursts in 2013 and 2015, sanitary authorities have notified the potential complications that might be possible, neurological and autoimmune. Recently, microcephaly has been registered as one of the more severe complications of this virus, although more studies are necessary to understand the exact link between the virus and the disease. 

The most common symptoms include fever and a rash. These usually appear between 2 and 12 day after contagion. Since most of these symptoms are present in dengue and chikungunya also, confirmatory blood tests are not only very important, but they are necessary. Zika virus can also behave similarly to other more serious diseases such as yellow fever, Nilo virus, and Japanese encephalopathy, which are all a lot more severe than Zika virus. Most times, other symptoms such as conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain are present also. Headaches, nausea and vomiting are not uncommon. The person must be isolated from areas where there are mosquitoes to avoid further contagion of these, thus, avoiding the spread of the disease.  


Infection with Zika virus can be suspected from the patient’s clinical manifestations and medical background, including the area or country where the person lives and if they’ve travelled recently to endemic zones such as Latin America. These can guide the diagnosis, however, the confirmation of this virus will come when laboratory blood tests are run and it is detected.

Zika virus disease is usually mild and does not require specialized treatment. The person must rest, drink enough water and take analgesics such as acetaminophen to alleviate pain and fever. If the symptoms persist, however, it is very strongly recommended to visit your physician. 

Currently, there is no vaccine for Zika Virus.