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Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

Alert: Zika Can Be Transmitted By Sexual Contact

The future of human health is under threat with the WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring the Zika virus infection to be a ‘public health emergency of international concern’. Although, it was previously known that the Zika virus was transferred by infected mosquito bites from the Aedes genus, recent reports claim that it can also be transmitted via sexual contact. There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus.

The Zika outbreak

The Zika virus itself is however not a recent phenomenon, with the virus first being isolated in 1947 and deriving its name from the Zika Forest of Uganda. The virus is also closely related to the dengue, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis viruses, with its carriers being the day-time Aedes mosquitoes. Initially, the infection was confined to the narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia, but it spread eastwards across the Pacific Ocean from 2007-2016, reaching the Americas and began infecting people on a global scale, resulting in the outbreak of the 2015-16 Zika virus epidemic.

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Perhaps, the most difficult part about containing the infection is the fact that only one out of five people affected actually shows the symptoms, making it very difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, a pregnant mother may also transfer the virus to her fetus which may lead to birth defects such as microcephaly or incomplete brain development. However for most people, the Zika virus causes only mild, flu-like symptoms, although in adults, it is also connected to the Guillan-Barrè syndrome wherein the immune system nerves are affected, causing muscle paralysis and weakness.

The Zika outbreak began in Brazil, and has spread to other South American and Central American countries, Caribbean island and has climbed upwards to Mexico. In fact in March 2016, Zika was isolated from a 2014 blood sample of a man in Bangladesh as part of a retrospective study. As of August 1, the virus has even reached Florida’s mosquitoes and can travel further north. 14 cases of infection have already been reported in South Florida. Cases of death have also been reported.

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As per reports,“the first reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus” seems to have come from New York City. So far, 15 cases of infection in the US have been confirmed to have been transmitted via sex. Studies also suggest that the virus remains in the semen for as long as 93 days. U.S. travellers are also responsible for bringing Zika back with them with the CDC reporting 2245 travel-linked cases and 8000 local infections in the country.

Measures You Can Take:

Attempts are being made to contain the infection as well as develop a vaccine to immunise the people against the virus. But prevention is better than cure, and here are some steps which we can take to protect ourselves from the deadly infection.

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Prevent Mosquito Bites:
1. Use EPA-registered insect repellants
2. Wear long-sleeved clothes
3. Keep doors and windows closed
4. Empty buckets and flower pots of standing or stagnant water around your house.
5. Keep rooms and toilets clean.

Practise Safe Sex:
1. People living in Zika-infected areas should practise safe sex (including condoms) or abstain from sexual activity.
2. Abstain from sexual activity throughout the pregnancy cycle.
3. If you’re returning from a Zika-infected area, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 8 weeks.
4. If you experience Zika symptoms, abstain from sex or practise safe sex for at least 6 months, particularly if you’re planning a pregnancy.
5. Avoid sharing sex toys.
6. Abstaining from sex negates the possibility of getting Zika via sex.

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Do Not Travel To Zika-Infected Countries
1. Pregnant women should in particular not travel to Zika-infected areas.
2. Do not travel to a Zika-infected place unless it’s an emergency, and if you do, take necessary precautions.

Featured photo credit: naturegirl 78 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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