All you need to know about the ‘Zapping Zika’

SARS, Chikungunya, H1N1, Swine Flu, Ebola… and now the latest burgeoning scare of Zika virus has hit the world with consequences in many folds. Already, the World Health Organization has declared Zika virus international public health emergency. Many countries have come in terms to understand this tragic outbreak and have vouched in to take precautionary measures.

Zika is a mosquito transmitted virus that was primarily discovered in the rhesus monkeys of Uganda forest in 1947 and was discovered in humans in 1952. The virus is common in Africa and Asia and had zero traces in the Western Hemisphere until last May when Brazil faced an outbreak.

It is similar to dengue fever and is severely affecting millions of people in the western tropical region. However, cases of Zika virus have also been registered in countries like Australia, China and France, with further anticipation to affect Indian territories as well.

The Maharashtra Government has declared to strengthen control measures in order to fight Zika virus. The state health ministry plans to commence a check on maternity clinics in order to measure the size of the head circumference to know if the child is suffering from microcephaly that is abnormal smallness of the head, a sign believed to be connected with Zika virus transferred from mother to child.

Apart from this the students of Maharashtra Institute of Medical Education and Research in Pune will be working to understand and bring about control measures for the virus. They have started keeping a watch on Mumbai airports as people landing from other countries may have contracted the same.

Here’s all you need to know about the stages of the deadly Zika virus.

Transmission

The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes genus in tropical regions. It is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

As of now there have been three cases reported due to sexual transmission. The Zika virus was found reproducing itself on a man’s semen weeks after he fell ill with the fever.

Although not proven if it gets transferred from mother to child, in 2015 Zika virus RNA was detected in the amniotic fluid of two pregnant women. The virus is said to cause abnormal brain development in the fetus which may result in miscarriage or microcephaly which is abnormal smallness of the head.

All you need to know about the ‘Zapping Zika’

Symptoms

The basic symptoms of Zika virus have not been stated clearly as of now. However they are quite similar to infections related to dengue which include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

The Zika fever has a mild approach towards symptoms with a limited scope. No fatalities have been reported yet but it surely is a potential viral agent of a disease that is still unknown.

Adults who have come in contact of the Zika virus have also been detected with Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) which is a kind of muscle weakness due to damaged peripheral nervous system.

All you need to know about the ‘Zapping Zika’

Treatment

It ideally does not require any specific treatment. People contracted with Zika virus should drink plenty of water and treat pain and fever with common available medicines. There is no vaccine or preventive drug available yet and are still under process by pharmaceutical and medicine experts all over the world. While one company from Hyderabad has claimed to have the drug to treat the virus, the US researchers have said that it could take around 3-5 years to develop a vaccine.

All you need to know about the ‘Zapping Zika’

Prevention

  • Since the virus hails from mosquitoes it is advisable to clear off any breeding grounds and keeping minimal contact between humans and mosquitoes.
  • Use mosquito repellents available at local drugstores.
  • Cover yourself while heading outdoors to prevent any mosquito contact with bare skin.
  • Sleep with a mosquito net over your bed.
  • Avoid going or working in habitats that are home to mosquitoes.
  • Dispose any vessels that have contained still water for too long.
All you need to know about the ‘Zapping Zika’
  • Surprisingly eating lots of garlic will also keep mosquitoes as well as humans at bay.
  • Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.
  • In January 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance on affected countries, including the use of enhanced precautions, and guidelines for pregnant women including considering postponed travelling or getting pregnant until more is known about the risks.

Dr Pradip Awate, state surveillance officer says, “However, there is no need for panic or fear among the public about the virus but it is better to be prepared if we report any cases.”

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