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How Does The Zika Virus Affect 5-Year-Olds? They Might Feel Like They Have The Flu

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For most people, if they become infected with the Zika virus, they’ll experience only mild flu-like symptoms for a short time. Some people might not even know they were bit by a mosquito carrying the virus at all. We already know that Zika poses the greatest risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies as it’s been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly (or abnormally small heads and brain size). But, how does the Zika virus affect five-year-olds specifically? A toddler should exhibit the same symptoms as everyone else. But, as toddlers tend to have weaker immune systems, parents should seek medical attention if they believe their child has been infected with Zika to ensure a proper treatment plan.

As we enter the hottest and most humid summer months, concern surrounding the virus has grown rapidly, and understandably. Schools are on summer break, there are tons of outdoor aquatic activities to do, and toddlers love it all and, unfortunately, so do mosquitoes. Parents’ concerns are completely justified when thinking about all of the areas little children could be bit by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus. But, there’s some good news that will help you worry a bit less while your child splashes around this summer.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), toddler who have recently become infected with the Zika virus should experience only fairly mild flu-like symptoms. They might have a fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pains, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for about a week.  

If you believe your child has Zika, health officials recommend toddlers get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat headaches or muscle pains with common medicines, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. If their symptoms don't clear up or worsen, you should seek medical attention. There is currently no vaccine available, but scientists are making progress towards one.

The bad news is your toddler may feel pretty sick for a few days if they became infected with the virus. The good news? Current research says there is "no lasting harm" for someone who had Zika in the past.

"Scientific concern is focused on women who become infected while pregnant and those who develop a temporary form of paralysis after exposure to the virus," according to the New York Times.

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RECIFE, BRAZIL - MAY 30: Mother Daniele Santos holds her baby Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly, on May 30, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. Microcephaly is a birth defect linked to the Zika virus where infants are born with abnormally small heads. The city of Recife and surrounding Pernambuco state remain the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak, which has now spread to many countries in the Americas. A group of health experts recently called for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to be postponed or cancelled due to the Zika threat but the WHO (World Health Organization) rejected the proposal. The Olympic torch passes through Recife May 31. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Zika seems to keep evolving and escalating and, understandably, so do the fears and concerns. It’s always a good idea to try and prevent mosquito bites with ample use of insect repellent and during these summer months it’s more of necessity. It’s a bit comforting to know that if a five-year-old becomes infected with Zika, it will go away. Do your best to use insect repellent regularly and keep your yard clear of standing water that can act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes to keep your summer fun-filled and as carefree as it can possibly be.