Food, HEALTH/FOOD

Do Not Take Mosquito Bites Lightly

“Zika Virus Fever is the new threat”

There are more bugs around these days and the scientists attribute this to climate change. This is especially noted during the warmer summer months. In the tropics, certain bugs are more commonly seen when compared with temperate countries.  The pesky little bugs can be not only annoying, but there are those that can give you a terrible sting or bite. Not all bugs are carriers of diseases, but we certainly know a lot about the characteristics and habits of the mosquito to avoid being bitten.

It has been suggested that several factors have contributed to the increase in mosquitoes and by extension the mosquito borne diseases. The ease and frequency of travel have been cited as one of the reasons vector borne diseases get introduced in regions of the world that did not previously detect these diseases. Vector borne diseases spread by mosquitoes include:

  • Dengue fever
  • Yellow fever
  • Chikungunya
  • West Nile
  • Malaria
  • Zika Virus

All except malaria are caused by viruses. It is a blood parasite which sickens individuals in the case of malaria.

Zika Virus Disease

Do Not Take MosquitoThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on 7 May 2015, issued an Epidemiological Alert recommending that Member States establish and maintain the capacity for Zika virus infection detection, clinical management and an effective public communication strategy to reduce the presence of the mosquito that transmits this disease, particularly in areas where the vector is present.

 Common Symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Pink eyes which appear irritated
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pains
  • Weakness
  • Rash
  • Swollen lower limbs

Less common clinical features are pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

 

Given that the symptoms for Zika virus infection are non-specific, the doctor will also consider the following conditions and do the appropriate lab tests for a specific diagnosis:

  1. Dengue
  2. Chikungunya
  3. Measles (Fever and rash)
  4. Malaria
  5. Leptospirosis

Treatment

Treatment is symptomatic and involves fluids, rest, antipyretic and analgesic agents.   The antipyretic and analgesic agent that is recommended is acetaminophen or paracetamol. Antihistamines may be used to relieve the symptoms of pruritus associated with the skin rash.

There are no vaccines currently available to prevent ZIKV infection.

Tips to prevent mosquito bites

  • Apply mosquito repellent with 30% DEET if you are living in an area or vacationing in a place with mosquitoes (note the manufacturers instruction on how often to reapply)
  • Mosquito repellents made from natural plant material (e.g. citronella) may help but have to be applied frequently
  • Mosquito repellents such as candles and sprays are helpful
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Sleep under a mosquito net. This is especially important for babies and young infants as one should avoid using the chemical DEET on the young child’s skin.
  • Check both indoors and around the house for containers with water (vases, flower pots, gardening tools and drains etc.) that could be breeding sites for mosquitoes and empty or treat with the recommended chemicals

Have a wonderful summer vacation and be safe.

Hello_docja, Readers Bureau, Contributor

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