About 3 weeks into arriving in Singapore, I received an email from my management saying there had been a case of Zika in the neighbourhood. Not just the country, but in the neighbourhood. As a result, my management advised us all to wear mosquito repellent. They also fogged the building after work hours with mosquito repellent.
After informing my husband, I found out that foggers had been to our building as well. The government were efficient, but I wasn’t sure what the big fuss was about. It brought me back to a conversation with my friend living in Rio in January 2016. The press had told the world that Zika was in South America. It sounded a bit scary and I was worried for her. So why wasn’t I worried for myself now?
I decided to do a little research about what these little villains in Singapore and the rest of the world could really do. Here’s what I found.
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that is contracted from mosquito bites. it is primarily from the Aedes mosquito (also responsible for dengue fever and yellow fever).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of zika include a mild fever, muscle and joint pain, fever, rash, conjunctivitis and malaise and headaches. Symptoms can go unnoticed but usually last 2-7 days.
How do you contract it?
The primary mode of transmission of the zika virus is from a bite from an infected Aedes mosquito. It is possible that the virus disease can also be contracted through sexual transmission and blood transfusions. This is currently being investigated. In order to find out if you have contracted zika, you will have to do a blood test or test other bodily fluids such as urine, saliva or semen.
What is the treatment?
There is currently no cure or vaccine for the zika virus. The zika virus disease does present with mild symptoms and as such requires no specific treatment. Bed rest and plenty of fluids are advisory, with joint and muscle pain being treated with common medicines. However, if symptoms worsen, people are advised to seek medical attention.
Who is at risk?
As with most diseases, children, the sick and the elderly are most at risk. However, this virus disease also holds particular danger to the fetus of pregnant women. Within the scientific community, the zika virus has been linked to be a cause of microcephaly and the Guillian-Barré syndrome. More investigations are currently underway to understand the links between the zika virus and other neurological disorders.
How do you prevent it?
Wearing long sleeves and clothes that cover most of your body (preferably light-coloured clothes) is one option to prevent getting bitten. Mosquito repellent containing DEET is also advised to be used. Couples with partners that have travelled to zika infected areas should practice safe sex, if the female is pregnant. If you are trying to conceive and your partner has travelled to a zika infected area- consult your doctor for advice. In addition, ensuring that you are not contributing to Aedes mosquito breeding is an asset to prevention. The Singapore government has advised all residents to practice the 5 step mozzie wipe out. Click here to find out what to do.
You can also consult the WHO website for more information about the zika virus.
Daily life in city with Zika
My daily life hasn’t changed that much except for remembering to put mozzie spray on before I leave the house. Sometimes I think twice about wearing perfume as it is sort of counter-productive t But generally, I opt for the two. So yes, I’m walking around smelling a little sweet with a twist of DEET. I am more conscious of wearing mosquito repellent after a thunderstorm (which are daily at the moment) or if I’m around nature . However, I hope this article can put minds to rest. We’re not all living locked up indoors. But we are being advised to take precautions. As I received an email late into the night from my worried father with an fyi that zika was in Singapore, I did wonder what the press outside of Zika affected countries were saying.
Please note, Singapore is still deemed safe for travellers.