Zika virus has been accused as a potential STD after recent discoveries made by the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department. Zika virus had gained popularity in 2007 when it originated in Africa and started multiplying through getting bit by Aedes mosquito carrying Zika. However, there were only few cases back then. It has become a hot topic once again in recent media coverage updates as it is spreading towards east across the Pacific, inflicting major areas like Central America, the Caribbean, and South America now. It is pacing with a dizzy rate and does not seem like to halt at any stop.
While mosquitoes are a key menace when it comes to Zika, the media and public officials are too much focused on them. They also need to pay attention to sex. Recently, a woman was reported positive for Zika virus. She confirmed having unprotected sex with someone who was exposed to this virus.
Yes, you read it right. Zika virus is a sexually transmitted disease. As per the sources, a woman from Texas got the virus from her partner who supposedly had Zika in his domain. He himself contracted it after travelling to the Zika infected area. So dear dreamer, Zika virus is no more a casual affair. Wake up! It is a deadly beast not only for the bearer but also for the direct or indirect partner involved in the game.
Let us understand this new plight in detail.
What is Zika virus?
This virus is transmitted through the bite of Aedes mosquito or through other unprotected sexual encounters. Be it oral, vaginal, anal or sharing of sex toys. It marks its territory in semen, vaginal fluid and other fluids as in blood, saliva or urine. It can remain in the semen for quite a long time as compared to other bodily fluids.
Once contracted, the virus goes on to interfere with human anatomy causing fever, joint-pain, rashes, red-eyes, headaches or muscle-pain. These symptoms may be mild or severe and, in most cases, do not appear at all.
According to a WHO report, a serious paralysis syndrome, Guillain- Barre also makes its way along with the Zika virus. The worst consequence is for pregnant women who might give birth to abnormal babies with neurological defects. Virus gets transmitted to the fetus through the bloodstream or during delivery. Microcephaly is the condition which is borne out of it in which the baby’s head is smaller than usual.
How to prevent Zika?
As per CDC reports, only about 1 in 5 people who contract the virus will actually get sick from it and only 20 percent of the patients actually show any kind of symptoms. As far as prevention is concerned, we need to be more conscious and save ourselves from getting bit by an Aedes mosquito. Yes, control of transmission is another effective measure but it is only helpful after getting hit by it. Why not be extra careful and keep the trouble out of the party!
Yes, it can be said conveniently; not having sex is the simplest and the best prevention method you can go for. But let us be practical here. It is not feasible. Therefore, practicing safe sexual activities is advised lest you cannot bet your cards off the bed. It greatly reduces the risk of virus contraction even though your partner has it. Barrier methods like use of condom by men/women or cervical caps by women are there for your rescue. Dental caps which are latex/polyurethane sheets are good help during oral sex.
It cannot be emphasized enough; Travelling to Zika affected areas requires special care. First of all, try avoiding visits to infected places. However, if necessary, wrap yourself up under insect repellant and mosquito netting before moving on. Risking your pregnancy for such tours would not be a wise decision.
Attention pregnant couples:
Even though, severe effects of the Zika virus are rare for non-pregnant women. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites as there are no vaccines or medicines to cure this infection yet. Some babies born with this fatal virus are reported having extensive brain defects.
Throughout your pregnancy period, you should take all the necessary steps to keep Zika virus at bay from you, your partner and of course the life springing inside you. Those who are considering pregnancy can seek professional medical advice on how to prevent Zika virus transmission during sex.
People who are not concerned about pregnancy can have protected sex by using condoms. Males should use condom for at least 8 weeks after their female partner has returned from Zika affected area while females should use it for 6 months after his return. Those who live in such areas should not even think of unprotected sex.
So now we know there is no vaccine developed to recover from this Zika Virus. Thus, laboratories have come up with different tests to check for Zika and assist us in opting for precautionary measures beforehand. This is a brand new menace. So officially, there has not been any approved test for Zika virus yet. Medical private clinics go on using their own, self-made ways according to their resources. Some have well-established apparatus while some use HIV test kit. Hence, there can be different results as per different tests. However, they may prove beneficial in detecting the virus and his/her ability to transfer it further.
Pregnant women who are engaged in sexual actions should go for regular checkups. Even CDC has also advised people to undergo tests who may have been vulnerable to the virus either through sex or visiting affected areas.
However, one cannot rely completely on these tests as activeness of Zika virus is different in different body fluids. For example, it can stay for longer duration in semen rather than in blood. So at a particular time, semen will show positive result while blood, a negative one. This culminates into a difficult confusion for common people, thus, interfering with the process of stopping this virus from spreading.
The debate is over. Zika virus is a Sexually Transmitted Disease. What lies at our stake is preventing its transmission. While the agencies press upon required checkups and make available medical resources for us, it is our responsibility to do our bit and eradicate this menace. All sufferers should know their status. People living in affected areas should pay even more attention to themselves.