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Health The Zika virus

Anonim

Suddenly the name appeared in the news: the Zika virus. The terms mosquito, pregnancy and skull malformation are related to the disease. But how dangerous is she really?

What is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is usually transmitted by mosquitoes, mainly from yellow fever mosquitoes.Currently, it is spreading particularly strongly in Central and South America, where, according to the Robert Koch Institute, it is said to be distributed in more than 40 countries. However, Zika virus infections are also reported in tropical Africa, Asia and the Pacific Ocean islands. The virus is by no means a new phenomenon: in 1947 it was first isolated with a monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda. That's why it has its name.

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What symptoms indicate the virus?

The virus is described as mild in the course. Only a quarter of those affected notice the disease at all. If symptoms occur, this usually happens three to twelve days after the infectious mosquito bite. Then the symptoms such as headache, joint and muscle pain, skin rash, fever or even conjunctivitis persist for up to one week.

Is the Zika virus dangerous?

For a healthy person, the Zika virus according to the current state of knowledge has no serious effects. If anything, the above symptoms occur. So far, the virus has only been deadly in people who have already suffered from a serious previous illness. Even in children, no particularly severe course of the disease was found. The virus is dangerous only for pregnant women: In unborn children, the virus can cause skull malformation, the so-called microcephaly. Especially if the mother becomes infected with the virus in the first three months of pregnancy, a fetal malformation is likely. The children come with a particularly small head in the world, the brain is usually very small in these cases. Often the affected children also show physical and mental developmental disorders.

Can you get infected with the virus within Germany?

A risk of infection in Germany is currently negligible. The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg has so far registered a few cases with travelers returning from Zika areas. The victims had been infected abroad by a mosquito bite. However, in Germany there have been some cases in which the virus has been transmitted to their partners through sexual intercourse by returning travelers. Above all, men transmitted the virus to women, in a confirmed case, a man transmitted the virus during anal intercourse to another man. However, one possible transmitter could still be the Asian tiger mosquito. So far, it has not been sufficiently researched whether this genus can also transmit the virus. The mosquito species occurs selectively in southern Germany. It could only transmit the virus if it stings an already infected traveler.

How can I protect myself from the virus?

If you plan to travel to a country or region where the Zika virus currently prevails, you can protect yourself by regularly applying special mosquito repellent to the skin and putting on long clothes. Insect screens on windows and over the bed can also prevent mosquito bites. Travelers are also advised to protect the sexual partners with a condom for at least one month from possible transmission.
Pregnant women advises the Foreign Office to avoid an avoidable trip to the affected areas. Women who are planning to become pregnant should not travel to Zika virus areas. If you still need to travel in such an area, it is advisable to consult a tropical or travel doctor before you leave.

A map of the World Health Organization with the areas currently affected can be found here >>

Answers of the Robert Koch Institute to the Zika virus can be found here >>

A leaflet from the German Federal Foreign Office for travelers in a Zika virus area can be found here >>

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