Zika shouldn’t be taken lightly. The World Health Organisation has declared the rapid spread of the virus an international public health emergency and here in Singapore, the Ministry of Health expects the incidence of infections to rise from the current 41 cases already reported.
What is Zika you ask? Dr Asok Kurup, Infectious Diseases Specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, says the virus overlaps with that of Dengue because they are transmitted by the same Aedes mosquito and they are often difficult to tell apart.
“The main difference between the two is that red eyes or symptoms of conjunctivitis manifest itself in patients who have Zika rather than Dengue. Zika often has less intense signs compared to dengue, where bleeding symptoms are more common,” he says.
Anyone infected with Zika may also show other symptoms including fever, rash and joint pain. But it’s especially dangerous for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy because it increases the risk of babies born with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease or drug to treat it, making it essential that people avoid mosquito bites. Here are some other things to know about Zika and how to step up your protection against the virus: