Aedes mosquito
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Zika: Five common myths busted

Since October 2015, 69 countries have reported evidence of local Zika transmission. As the virus spreads swiftly, Love Matters busts some most common myths about it.

Zika has been recognised as a sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Public-health officials are calling Zika a global emergency. In Brazil, hundreds of babies born to Zika-infected mothers have suffered severe birth defects since last year. Although the current spread of the virus has primarily been limited to South America, India has been listed under its risk. Read on to know more. #BeHealthyBeSexy

  1. Zika can be transmitted through water According to the WHO, Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by female Aedes mosquitoes. Sexual transmission of the virus is also possible. However, there is no proof that Zika can be transmitted through any other form. Whilst the larvae of the mosquito hatch in stagnant water, you cannot get Zika if you ingest water with the larvae in it. Other forms of transmission, strictly through blood are currently being investigated.

  2. Zika is caused by genetically modified mosquitos Just because the virus has been recently discovered, it doesn't mean that Zika or even microcephaly that lead to the discovery of Zika is caused by genetically modified mosquitos. Only female mosquitos bite humans and so far genetically modified male mosquitoes are released, so there is no risk of disease transmission. In fact, the genes of male mosquitos are designed to wipe out Aedes aegypti in the region and protect people from Zika transmission there. WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of current mosquito control interventions. Curious to know more facts about Zika? Read our top five facts here!

  3. Symptoms of Zika virus disease are severe and confusing Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. Symptoms can be common to that of Dengue, it may include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or a headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. Zika virus disease requires no particular treatment. Infected people should rest, drink a lot of fluids, and treat pain and fever with medicines. If the case is extreme, one should seek medical help.

  1. There's no way to prevent yourself from Zika Mosquitos and their breeding sites pose a major threat of spreading Zika virus disease. Reducing or removing the breeding sites, using mosquito repellents, practising safe sex using condoms and spraying insecticides authorised by WHO can help in the prevention of Zika. Travellers should be extremely careful while travelling to countries affected by Zika and take necessary precautions. A pregnant mother should take extra steps to avoid mosquito bites or sexual transmission as Zika can affect her pregnancy, leading to miscarriage or birth defects. However, chances are very rare, according to WHO. Birth defects are common if Zika affects a woman in her first trimester.

  2. Zika can be passed by kissing Zika virus is a sexually transmitted disease but there is no evidence that kissing can spread Zika. However, research suggests that Zika virus can be found in semen longer than in other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood. That means the chances of catching Zika virus are more in vaginal, anal and oral sex. People using sex toys are also at risk. However, evidence shows that sexually transmitted cases of Zika are just 10 in 20 countries. It also proves that it has been spread among male to female, male to male and female to male.

Here are some steps listed in The American Journal of Public Health that can be taken by public health institutes to prevent Zika virus epidemic:

(1) Vector control to limit the spread of Zika via mosquitoes.

(2) Sexual and reproductive health interventions.

(3) Generating knowledge and technology including diagnostic tests and a vaccine.

(4) Health system preparedness to address the longitudinal needs of families affected by Zika.

What other myths have you heard about Zika? Share your comments below or join us on Facebook. If you have a question, please visit our discussion forum.

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