Zika virus development can be slowed down by experimental hepatitis C antiviral drug. Professor Johan Neyts explained, “The Zika virus is transmitted by the tiger mosquito. Roughly twenty percent of the people who are infected actually get sick. The most common symptoms, which last about a week, are fever, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, rash, and red eyes. A small number of infected people go on to develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and temporary paralysis. In some cases, the patient needs to be put on a ventilator.”
“The biggest cause for concern is that pregnant women with the infection can pass on the virus to the fetus. As a result, some babies are born with microcephaly, a disorder of the central nervous system whereby the child’s skull and brain are too small. In severe cases, these children grow up with serious physical and mental disabilities,” Neyts continued.
“As the Zika virus is related to the hepatitis C virus, we examined whether some inhibitors of the hepatitis C virus also prevent the multiplication of the Zika virus in human cells. We have identified at least one experimental drug that is effective against the Zika virus. We used mice with a defect in their innate immune system. When these mice are infected with the Zika virus, they develop a number of the symptoms that we also see in human patients. Treating the infected mice with the hepatitis C virus inhibitor resulted in a clear delay in virus-induced symptoms,” Neyts continued.
He concluded, “The experimental hepatitis C inhibitor is not very powerful yet. Nevertheless, our study opens up important new possibilities. We can now start testing the effectiveness of other promising virus inhibitors and vaccines against the Zika virus.”
Tips to prevent mosquito bites
Whether or not you are living in a country that exposes you to Zika or other mosquito-transmitted illnesses, it’s important to reduce your risk of mosquito bites for the simple fact that they are itchy and associated with discomfort. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help you better reduce your risk of mosquito bites.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Wear bright colors as opposed to darker ones – especially at night.
- Stay in placed with air conditioning or mosquito nets.
- If you are overseas or outside, stay under a mosquito net.
- Use insect repellent on skin and even clothing – do not apply repellent on children under the age of two months.
Prevent Zika transmission
If you have been bitten and infected with Zika, there are some ways that you can reduce the transmission of the virus to others. If you are infected, you should still protect yourself from further mosquito bites to prevent passing on the virus to others. So it’s still recommended to follow the tips above.
Zika has also been found to be transmitted through semen, so if you’re a male either wear a condom when having sexual intercourse or abstain from sex for some time.
If you’re looking to get pregnant or are pregnant, lower your risk of passing Zika on to the fetus by avoiding countries with known Zika virus, following tips to prevent mosquito bites, and abstaining from sex with an infected man.
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