The Zika virus —has now spread to at least 32 countries. The World Health Organization estimates close to four-million people across the Americas will be infected with the virus in the next year. Today, a team of insect scientists at Ontario’s Brock University is poised to begin testing mosquitoes native to Canada to determine whether the biting bugs can become infected with the Zika virus and potentially transmit it to humans.
Brock University, at St. Catharines, Ontario, the only academic institution in Canada with a Level 3 containment lab that includes an insectary, has received a shipment of Zika virus from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg – the only other Canadian facility with a similar high-security capacity.
There is no vaccine or medication that protects against Zika virus infection and scientists believe it may two years before one can be developed, tested and ready for wide spread distribution.
Despite three confirmed cases in Ontario- (brought in from travellers from the infected areas) – Ontarians and those visiting the area, remain a very low risk, as the mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Canada and aren’t well-suited to our climate.
The Zika Virus infection is a mosquito-borne disease which typically causes a mild febrile illness in affected individuals. Since the 1950s, Zika Virus has been potent in the narrow equatorial belt of Africa and Asia, though in recent times, it has spread to other parts of the world as well. Apart from transmission through mosquito bites, the virus may be transferred from one person to another during sexual intercourse or from mother to an unborn fetus. Fortunately, Zika virus remains asymptomatic in about four out of five cases. However, when symptoms are present, an individual is likely to experience the following discomforts.
- Fever Those who contract a Zika virus infection tend to develop a low-grade fever within 3 – 12 days of exposure. Typically, the fever is mild and does not cross 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Headaches Alongside the fever, persistent headaches are also likely to present. Some people suffer from headaches where there is pain behind the eyes as well.
- Arthralgia Arthralgia refers to joint pain particularly in the smaller joints of the hands and feet. This pain typically persists longer than the duration of the fever and may be the earliest symptom to appear.
- Myalgia Muscle pain or myalgia is amongst the most common complaints of those suffering from Zika virus infection. Most people will describe it as an unrelenting “body ache” which may encompass the legs, spinal region and arms too
- Skin Rash In some cases of Zika Virus infection, patients may also develop a skin rash. Mostly the rash is characterised by small bumps that may or may not be elevated and/or discoloured.