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The Truth About The Zika Virus

Illustration: Scary viruses as seen under a microscopeThe Truth About the Zika Virus

With 13 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Texas, many people in the Dallas area have been concerned about the health risks of the virus to them and their loved ones. For most people who contract the Zika virus, symptoms are mild—sometimes even nonexistent—and there is little cause for concern. As a matter of fact, only 1 in 5 people who become infected with the virus show any symptoms at all. The biggest risk is to pregnant women due to the suspected link between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological birth defect in which the unborn baby’s brain does not fully develop.

So how do you know if you’ve contracted the Zika virus? First, because the virus is known to be spread through the bite of an infected Aendes mosquito, you are most at risk if you’ve traveled out of the country to one of the Zika-infested Latin American and Caribbean countries. In addition, there has been a confirmed case of a person in Dallas County who contracted the Zika virus through sexual contact with an infected person. If you’ve been exposed to the virus, symptoms usually appear in two to seven days and may include mild fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms can last for up to a week. If you think you may have contracted the Zika virus, there is a test available to confirm the diagnosis.

There is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, and there is no medication to treat the infection. You can treat the symptoms by getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and taking acetaminophen to reduce fever and alleviate muscle and joint pain. You should not, however, take aspirin or any type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and if you take any medications for pre-existing conditions, you should consult with your healthcare provider. You should also contact your healthcare provider immediately if you think you’ve contracted the Zika virus and you are, or think you may be, pregnant.

And if you’re looking for a healthcare provider for you and your family, come to Hillcrest Medical, the best place for urgent care in Dallas.

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