Monday, April 15, 2024

How is Zika virus transmitted?

Zika virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world and are known vectors for several other mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue fever and chikungunya.

When a mosquito bites a person infected with Zika virus, it ingests the virus along with the person's blood. The virus then replicates within the mosquito's body and can be transmitted to other people through subsequent mosquito bites. Aedes mosquitoes are known for their aggressive daytime biting habits, although they can also bite at night.

In addition to mosquito bites, Zika virus can also be transmitted through other routes:

Sexual transmission: Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner, even if the infected person does not have symptoms. The virus can be present in semen for several weeks to months after infection.

Maternal-fetal transmission: Zika virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or childbirth, leading to congenital Zika syndrome.

Blood transfusion and organ transplantation: Although rare, Zika virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion or organ transplantation from an infected donor. Blood banks and organ transplant programs may implement screening measures to reduce the risk of Zika virus transmission through blood products and organ donations.

It's important to note that while Aedes mosquitoes are the primary vectors for Zika virus transmission, other mosquito species have been implicated in laboratory studies as potential vectors. Additionally, Zika virus can be present in other bodily fluids, such as urine, saliva, and breast milk, but the risk of transmission through these routes is considered to be low compared to mosquito-borne transmission and sexual transmission.

Preventive measures to reduce the risk of Zika virus transmission include:

Using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or other EPA-approved ingredients.
Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Using screens or bed nets to prevent mosquito bites while sleeping.
Emptying and cleaning containers that collect water to prevent mosquito breeding.
Using condoms or abstaining from sex to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus, especially for pregnant women or couples planning pregnancy.

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