Molecular testing for the Zika virus is used for laboratory documentation of the Zika virus disease for clinical and epidemiological purposes.
The Zika virus is an RNA virus primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti. It was first identified in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947 and remained relatively unknown until outbreaks occurred in different parts of the world, starting in 2015.
The Zika virus is a member of the Flaviviridae family and is closely related to dengue, West Nile, and yellow fever viruses. It is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, although other modes of transmission, such as sexual contact, blood transfusions, and from mother to child during pregnancy, have also been reported.
Most people infected with the Zika virus do not experience any symptoms, or they only have mild symptoms that last for a few days to a week. These symptoms include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and headache. However, the major concern with Zika virus infection is its association with neurological complications, particularly microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers and Guillain-Barré syndrome in some individuals.
To prevent Zika virus infection, it is important to take measures to avoid mosquito bites, such as using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing, and using bed nets. Additionally, efforts to control mosquito populations and reduce breeding sites are crucial in preventing the spread of the virus. In areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing, it is recommended that pregnant women take extra precautions to avoid infection.
There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus infection. Treatment mainly involves managing the symptoms by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers to alleviate fever and pain. It is important to avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).