In January of 2016, we shared 5 Things Nurses Need to Know about Zika Virus
. Since that time, ongoing research and monitoring has increased what we know, and recommendations have been updated based on the latest evidence. Here are five more things that are important for nurses to understand:
1. Is there a test for Zika virus?
Early in the course of Zika virus, a serum real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) may detect Zika virus RNA in the blood. The virus RNA may remain present in the urine longer than in the blood; the CDC recommends that urine samples be collected less than 14 days after onset of symptoms for rRT-PCR testing. Virus-specific IgM and neutralizing antibodies typically develop toward the end of the first week of illness, so Zika virus serologic testing can be done later in the course of illness. All submissions go through the state or local health department and there are specific instructions from the CDC on how to collect, prepare, and ship specimens for testing.
2. What are the current recommendations related to sexual transmission?
3. What is microcephaly?
- Men who have been diagnosed with Zika virus should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least six months.
- Pregnant women with male partners who live in or travel to areas with Zika should use condoms every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, or abstain from sex for during the pregnancy.
- Both men and women should be counselled about contraceptive planning. Women with Zika virus should wait at least eight weeks after symptom onset before conceiving; men with Zika virus should wait at least six months, as it is unknown how long the virus may remain in semen. Women with possible exposure to Zika virus should wait at least eight weeks after being exposed to attempt conception; men should wait at least six months.
Microcephaly is a neonatal malformation in which infants are born with a head smaller than normal due to abnormal brain development. In some cases, newborns may develop normally, however, possible associated neurologic complications include developmental delay and seizures, as well as speech, hearing, and vision deficits, and feeding difficulties. Diagnosis can be made by ultrasound late in the second trimester or early in the third trimester, or after a baby is born. Microcephaly is a lifelong condition and treatment depends on the severity of the malformation and associated health problems.
4. Is Zika virus associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)?
The CDC is investigating the link between Zika virus and GBS, as the Brazil Ministry of Health has reported an increased number of people who have been infected with Zika virus who also have GBS. GBS is an autoimmune disease which attacks the peripheral nervous system. Weakness of the arms and legs results, and flaccid paralysis often develops. In severe cases, the muscles of the face weaken and affect the eyes, swallowing, and breathing. Many patients with GBS have a history of a recent viral or bacterial infection, so it is possible that a percentage of those infected with Zika virus could develop GBS as well.
5. How should symptoms of Zika virus be managed?
At this time, there is no antiviral or other medication available to prevent or treat Zika virus. Rest, fluids, antipyretics, and analgesics are recommended for symptom management. It’s important to remember that aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue virus is ruled out.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 14). Zika virus. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
Coyle, A. (2016). Zika virus: What nurses need to know. Nursing2016, 22-24.
O'Malley, P. A. (2016). Zika Virus: What We Know and Do Not Know. Clinical Nurse Specialist: The Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice, 194-197.
Todd, B. (2016). Zika Virus: An Unfolding Epidemic. AJN, American Journal of Nursing, 59-60.