How does the Zika virus affect children?

August 30, 2016
  • Zika and children
    1 / 6 Zika and children

    Zika strikes Singapore again. The first Zika cluster for 2017 is at Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang, The Straits Times reported.

    Pregnant women are understandably the most worried – the virus poses the greatest threat to unborn babies.

    But what if you already have a baby, toddler or preschooler? Does it affect children differently from adults? According to a report in The New Paper, 4 out of 4 infected adults do not show symptoms.

    Young Parents asked Dr Leong Hoe Nam, infectious disease physician from Rophi Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, to answer concerns parents may have.

     

     

     

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  • What symptoms should I look out for?
    2 / 6 What symptoms should I look out for?

    Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, a rash and conjunctivitis (red eyes). It can be a mix of any of these, and not necessarily all of them, Dr Leong says.

    Once your child has Zika, he will be immune to it for life.

    Related: Which is the most effective mosquito repelling product for Zika virus?

     

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  • Does Zika affect young children differently from adults?
    3 / 6 Does Zika affect young children differently from adults?

    “So far, we think it is the same. We don’t have enough experience yet,” Dr Leong says.

    There is a rare syndrome called Guillain Barre Syndrome that is estimated to affect 1 in 10,000 to 100,000 individuals (adults and children) infected with Zika.

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  • How should I protect the rest of my children if one child or parent contracts Zika?
    4 / 6 How should I protect the rest of my children if one child or parent contracts Zika?

    The best way is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, Dr Leong advises.

    Use a repellent that contains the chemical DEET (of at least 15 per cent) or picaridin.

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  • If my child gets Zika, when can he go back to school?
    5 / 6 If my child gets Zika, when can he go back to school?

    He should wait until the virus is no longer detectable in the blood, Dr Leong says. This is estimated to be within 7 days of him contracting the illness.

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  • Will keeping my child indoors or away from school help prevent him from getting Zika?
    6 / 6 Will keeping my child indoors or away from school help prevent him from getting Zika?

    To a certain extent, Dr Leong says. “Remember, though, transmission is by mosquitoes. If the mosquito flies indoors, it won’t help.

    “The aedes mosquito bite typically doesn’t leave a bite. So your child may be bitten and yet you do not know about it.”

    The Zika epidemic may be also be protracted and it is possible that it cannot be totally eradicated, Dr Leong warns.

    “The relative mild illness for children –with offers of permanent immunity, makes Zika less scary for children.

    “It is the pregnant women that we worry about, not children. Hence I would still take my children to school.”

    Related: Mosquitoes: why do some children get bitten more than others?

     

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