Zika continues to be a public health concern affecting people around the world. Since the start of the outbreak throughout the Americas in 2015, people have taken precautions to protect themselves against Zika-carrying mosquitoes. And it's certainly warranted – Zika has been found to have links to serious illnesses and birth defects, like microcephaly. Pregnant women and couples expecting to have babies are especially at risk. So it's important to understand as much information as possible about Zika's symptoms, like, a rash, fever and joint pain. But, what are the signs your rash is a Zika rash? It's important to remain informed on what health officials are learning about all the symptoms, even those that may initially seem unconnected.
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, Zika symptoms are usually mild, lasting for days to a week. Symptoms also include muscle pain and headaches, the CDC noted. Since Zika symptoms can be mild, many people may not realize they actually have the Zika virus.
A recent report published in the journal JAMA Dermatology described characteristics of a rash found on a 44-year-old man who had returned from Puerto Rico and tested positive for Zika. The subject's rash was present most on his knees and feet.
The report read:
As the eruption faded on the upper body, it became more apparent on the lower body. On day 3, the patient noted the eruption to be most pronounced on the knees and feet, and he described burning pain of the feet.
So if you do have a rash that's related to Zika – perhaps you traveled to a country where Zika is prevalent – it's important to investigate.
People who believe they may have the Zika virus can be diagnosed by a medical professional with information about their travel history, and by a urine or blood test. Since Zika can also be transmitted sexually, the CDC recommends that pregnant with "possible exposure to Zika virus from sex should be tested."
It's important to understand all of the virus' risks. As Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times reporter and author of Zika: The Emerging Epidemic, told NPR, "nobody is immune" to Zika.
"No one in the population has had the disease before, so nobody is immune to it, nobody has antibodies to it," McNeil said. "After this year, a fair number of people will be immune, and each year immunity will grow."
CNN recently cited a study in the journal Nature which suggested that immunity occurs only once a person has contracted and recovered from Zika. The CDC notes that the best way to prevent Zika is to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible, and has put together lists of ways people can protect themselves as well.
For now, if you think the rash you have may bear similarities to those of a Zika rash, practice that age-old advice and get it checked out. After all, it's always better to be safe than sorry.