With reports of the Zika virus continuing to dominate the headlines, it is crucial for nurses to gather all relevant information. This enables them to better support other medical staff. Moreover, greater understanding helps nurses to counsel patients on how they can avoid exposing themselves. Here are five more things that nurses need to know about Zika virus.
1. Is There an Association with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS)?
Many health care workers have noted that people who are diagnosed with Zika also have GBS. Generally, GBS is an autoimmune disorder. When someone has GBS, they may experience weakness in the extremities as well as flaccid paralysis. The muscles of the face may also be affected. Before GBS is diagnosed, many patients report experiencing a bacterial or viral infection, which may be caused by the Zika virus.
2. The Test for Detecting Zika Virus
If a patient is in the early days of a Zika infection, then it may be possible for a serum real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to detect the virus’s presence in the bloodstream. However, studies have shown that the virus tends to be detectable in urine for a much longer time. This has led the CDC to recommend obtaining a urine sample when Zika virus is suspected.
3. Managing Symptoms
Because Zika infection can be confused with dengue virus, it’s best to avoid NSAIDs and aspirin until a definitive diagnoses is reached. The most commonly recommended course of treatment involves fluids, rest and the use of analgesics. Presently, there is no cure for Zika virus infection.
4. Avoiding Sexual Transmission
Abstinence and the use of condoms are the most highly recommended methods for avoiding the transmission of the Zika virus between sexual partners. The CDC has published recommendations that suggest that men who have received a diagnosis should either abstain or use a condom for a period of six months. Because Zika virus has been known to cause birth defects, pregnant women are advised to abstain or use condoms if their sexual partner has traveled to parts of the world where the virus is common. Women with Zika virus who are attempting to conceive should wait at least eight weeks after the onset of symptoms.
5. The Risk of Microcephaly
Babies who are infected with the Zika virus in the womb are in danger of developing brain abnormalities. Their heads are typically smaller than normal, and the risks of neurologic complications are high. Microcephaly is incurable. Moreover, it is difficult to determine how much the baby’s development will be affected by the condition.