The Zika Virus, What Nurses Need to Know
The Zika virus is associated with congenital disabilities, including microcephaly, in babies born to infected mothers. Babies born with microcephaly usually have underdeveloped heads, and they have brain damage(Adibi et al., 2016). The virus, spread by mosquitoes, has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome. When one is infected, he or she presents with mild illness although several cases of neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) as a result of the virus have been reported (Goldfarb, Jaffe, & Lyerly, 2017). Nurses must continuously stay updated about the ever evolving research knowledge regarding the Zika virus disease to offer adequate care to the patient and avoid regrettable outcomes such as infants being born with Microcephaly and brain damage.
In 1947, the Zika virus was first identified in rhesus monkeys and humans in 1952 (Goldfarb, Jaffe, & Lyerly, 2017). The disease is associated with the flaviviruses such as the West Nile viruses, the dengue, and yellow fever, and that are found in sectors such as the mosquito. These infections can be transmitted to human beings. The rapid spread of the virus globally has been attributed to several factors, including the increased travels and global trade and human resource mobility (de Oliveira et al., 2017). Moreover, the world has seen an increase in the disease as a result of a de-emphasis on mosquito control programs, and poor public sanitation, and increased urbanization, among others have significantly contributed to the spread of the disease. Other factors that contribute to the spread of the Zika Virus include insecticide variations and increased resistance to the virus (Goldfarb, Jaffe, & Lyerly, 2017). Resistance to the virus has been attributed to the mutation that the virus has undergone.
The Zika virus is an arthropod vector, spread by mosquitos, fleas, and ticks among others (de Oliveira et al., 2017). However, the latest Zika virus outbreaks among humans have been determined to have been caused by the mosquito. Once the mosquito is infected, the virus replicates itself in the insect’s gut. The insect then passes the virus on to humans with a bite. Evidence of another avenue of transmission has emerged, According to Goldfarb, Jaffe, & Lyerly, (2017), the Zika virus is primarily transmitted to human through a mosquito bite, and several cases of potential transmission through sexual relations have been reported.
Rapid and accurate diagnosis of the infection is yet to be achieved due to the numerous barriers that plague the health sector. However, changes are being put in place to combat the disease. For example, guidelines regarding who should be tested are evolving because most patients infected are asymptomatic (Koopmans et al., 2018). However, diagnostic tests cannot be used to detect the presence of the virus because it is unlikely for the patients to portray any symptoms in the incubation period. Indeed, this complicates the screening of the public to reduce human-to-human transmissions (de Oliveira et al., 2017). Testing of the Zika virus is now carried out in conjunction with the federal state departments or at CDC Arbovirus Diagnostic laboratories.
The exact Zika virus incubation period is unknown although it is estimated to be a few days to two weeks (Goldfarb, Jaffe, & Lyerly, 2017). Interestingly, 80% of the Zika virus patients show no signs or symptoms of the condition. However, some of the symptoms include mild signs of low fever, headache, fatigue, a maculopapular rash, arthralgia, and conjunctivitis. Individuals who suspect that they have the virus are advised to visit health centers to be tested.
If not handled properly, the infection has been proven to lead to some complications. Infant mortality, fetal loss, and Microcephaly have been connected to the virus (Koopmans et al., 2018). However, cases range from mild to severe with a host of neurologic complications such as vision, and speech deficits, and developmental delays and seizures that are linked with microcephaly.
Adibi, J. J., Marques Jr, E. T., Cartus, A., & Beigi, R. H. (2016). Teratogenic effects of the Zika virus and the role of the placenta. The Lancet, 387(10027), 1587-1590.
De Oliveira, W. K., de França, G. V. A., Carmo, E. H., Duncan, B. B., de Souza Kuchenbecker, R., & Schmidt, M. I. (2017). Infection-related microcephaly after the 2015 and 2016 Zika virus outbreaks in Brazil: a surveillance-based analysis. The Lancet, 390(10097), 861-870.
Goldfarb, I. T., Jaffe, E., & Lyerly, A. D. (2017). Responsible care in the face of shifting recommendations and imperfect diagnostics for Zika virus. Jama, 318(21), 2075-2076.
Koopmans, M., de Lamballerie, X., Jaenisch, T., Rosenberger, K. D., Morales, I., Marques, E. T., … & Segurado, A. (2018). Familiar barriers still unresolved—a perspective on the Zika virus outbreak research response. The Lancet Infectious Diseases.