Zika, and What You Need to Know About It
The recent spate of Zika cases last Sunday has caused a degree of nationwide panic in Singapore. Across Zika-related articles, a few words consistently pop out at us – microcephaly, sexual transmissions, asymtopmatic. What do these all mean? We’ve broken down these overwhelming information into digestible facts, about everything you need to know about Zika.
Five Facts You Need to Know About Zika
1. Zika has been around longer than you think.
Contrary to popular belief, Zika is not a recent phenomenon. The virus was first discovered in 1947, in a rhesus monkey living in Uganda’s Zika Forest. The first human Zika infection was detected in 1952, in Uganda and Tanzania. The virus spread throughout Africa and in 2007, it hit Asia. The virus also spread through Brazil, to US, and in February this year, the World Health Organisation declared a public health emergency of international concern. However, Singapore had not been affected till May, when a man returned from Brazil and tested positive for Zika. Since then, last Sunday’s spike of 41 Zika cases has been the first likely locally-transmitted case of infections. The cases have been restricted to Aljunied and Sims Drive areas thus far, but, as most of us remembers the SARS episode, diseases can spread rapidly in areas of high-density population such as Singapore. Everyone therefore needs to increase their efforts in mosquito breeding prevention.
2. Zika is usually asymptomatic.
An asymptomatic disease is one that shows no symptoms. For Zika, only 1 in 5 people develop symptoms – rashes, mild fever, joint or muscle pain, and eye inflammation(2). Thus, because this disease seems so low-key, isolation of infected individuals has limited success. The best strategy in defeating Zika is therefore vector control, such as engaging pest management to conduct regular mosquito treatment. Treatment is especially critical for entities such as malls and hotels, as these places receive high traffic of people, enabling rapid spread of the virus. Do consider enhancing your current pest control contract to an increased focus on mosquitoes. For additional information on mosquito treatment, do consult ORIGIN as well.
3. Zika may spread in more ways than we think.
Besides blood, Zika virus has also been detected in saliva, semen, urine, vaginal fluid and breast milk. Studies have shown that it is highly unlikely for Zika to be transmitted from one human to another through saliva, but these possibility cannot be ruled out. However, like dengue, Zika can (and has been proven to) be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can remain in the saliva for up to 7 days, in the blood for about 11 days, and in semen for more than 180 days (though it is unclear how long it remains infectious)(3). It is therefore important, especially for pregnant woman, to adopt safe sexual practices, to prevent the transmission of Zika to the fetus
4. Zika is of most concern to pregnant women.
One of the most alarming things about Zika is that it causes microcephaly in fetuses. Microcephaly is more than just a smaller head – the brain is smooth, lacking the normal indentations. The nerves that connect the ears and eyes to the brain may also be damaged. Additionally, children may be born with rigid limbs, or have seizures. However, thus far, only French Polynesia and Brazil have had a proven causal relationship between Zika outbreak and the increase in number of fetuses with small heads. This is because microcephaly can be caused by other infections as well, such as rubella and parasites (1). Nevertheless, it is important for pregnant women to take caution against Zika.
5. A female mosquito can transmit Zika to her eggs.
Like dengue, a study has shown that a female mosquito with Zika can pass it to her eggs (4). This means that not only adult mosquitoes that bite an infected person can transmit it – larvae itself can grow with the Zika virus in them, and transmit them once they become adults. Unfortunately, most efforts in mosquito treatment include fogging. Fogging only kills adults, and does NOT wipe out larvae in breeding areas. ORIGIN conducts misting, which has a 2-in-1 effect: the adulticide kills adult mosquitoes, while a bacteria called BTI (Bacillus thuringiensis var israelensis) kills larvae. In this way, one treatment kills both larvae and adults, being much more effective than fogging. Also, as BTI is biological, this reduces the amount of additional chemicals required to kill larvae. Further, our treatment is safe for young children. We thus advise you to ensure that your pest controller steps up efforts in eliminating mosquito larvae as well.
You can learn more about our Mosquito Treatment here, or give us a buzz to purchase our treatment for your premises.
In sum, the Zika virus may be much more complicated than we think, and research about this recent epidemic is still ongoing. Like most diseases, prevention is always better than cure, and every person needs to rigorously increase efforts in engaging mosquito treatment for their premises, and eliminating any potential sources of stagnant water accumulation.
Recognising the risks that Zika poses, ORIGIN has devised a new treatment, the ORIGIN Mozzie Free Zone Treatment. In Zone Treatment, an adulticide is sprayed thoroughly on external walls, building a physical barrier that prevents mosquitoes from entering indoors. The effect is residual and lasts 4 – 6 weeks, killing any mosquitoes landing on the walls to rest during the day. Zone Treatment is thus recommended along with misting, to effectively protect your premises from mosquitoes both indoors and outdoors.
Do consult us now to purchase Zone Treatment for your area, to protect your premises against Singapore’s latest health threat.
- Short Questions to Hard Answers About the Zika Virus. The New York Times, 29 July 2016. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/health/what-is-zika-virus.html
- 5 Things to Know About Zika Virus. Ministry of Health, 27 August 2016. Retrieved from https://www.gov.sg/factually/content/5-things-to-know-about-zika-virus
- Zika is spreading in Florida Here are 9 Facts To Calm You Down. Vox Science and Health, 23 August 2016. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2016/7/29/12235578/zika-virus-symptoms-babies-sexually-transmitted-mosquito-bite-questions4
- Female Mosquitoes Can Transmit Zika Virus to Their Eggs: Study. The Straits Times, 29 August 2016. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/female-mosquitoes-can-transmit-zika-virus-to-their-eggs-study5
- Alarm Spreads in Brazil over a Virus and a Surge in Malformed Infants. The New York Times, 30 Dec 2015. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/world/americas/alarm-spreads-in-brazil-over-a-virus-and-a-surge-in-malformed-infants.html6
- Timeline: Zika’s Origin and Global Spread. The Straits Times, 29 August 2016. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/world/timeline-zikas-origin-and-global-spread7
- First Case of Zika Virus in Singapore; 48-Year-Old Man Who Travelled to Sao Paolo. The Straits Times, 13 May 2016. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/first-case-of-zika-virus-in-singapore-48-year-old-male-pr-who-travelled-to-sao