Zika Virus – 8 Things You Need To Know

Zika virus is the latest vector borne disease which is threatening mankind. It is a mosquito-borne virus which is prompting worldwide concern because of an alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder and rapid spread across the globe.

Zika Virus - Aedes Mosquito
Aedes Mosquito

This mosquito transmitted infection is related to Dengue, Yellow Fever, White Nile Virus and Chikungunya family, but unlike some of these viruses, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat the infection. It was discovered in the Zika forest of Uganda where it was first identified in rhesus monkey in 1947. The aggressive yellow fever mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, has spread most Zika cases. Some other ways that this virus can spread is through blood transfusion and / or sexual contact. Very few people have immunity against this virus and so far no medicines have been discovered to fight against the Zika virus. It is spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is geographically widespread.

Zika Virus - spread of Aedes Mosquitoe

Zika virus is getting worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This causes severe developmental issues and sometimes death.

According to WHO the symptoms are usually mild and normally last two to seven days. The  symptoms which are similar to Chikungunya include :- Zika Virus - Symptoms

  1. A mild fever,
  2. Skin rash,
  3. Aches and pains,
  4. Headache, and
  5. Conjunctivitis

Zika Virus - MicrocephalyOne of the diseases which is becoming wide spread due to Zika Virus is ‘Microcephaly’. Babies with microcephaly  have abnormally small heads which can cause brain damage. The infant’s brain may not develop properly during pregnancy or may have stopped growing in the first years of life. These children may experience a range of problems, like developmental delays, intellectual deficits or hearing loss.

The social implications of this disease are heartbreaking and a big burden on families and communities. It is also an increased burden on government both financially and socially.

With the Olympics in Brazil there is certainty of epidemic and with a possibility of spreading of the Zika virus across the globe (this may turn into a pandemic)

Zika Virus Poses a question : What could be done?

Some of the things which may arrest the spread of this virus may include :-

  1. A declaration by international organisations like WHO as the virus has already spread to more than 20 countries
  2. Advisories and special measures could be put into effect in the affected countries
  3. Advanced laboratories in regional centres to detect the virus could be set up
  4. Global mosquito eradication efforts should be made
  5. Worldwide cleanliness measures particularly in developing and underdeveloped countries should be taken up by the respective governments.

Effect of Zika Virus on India | The Indian perspective

Although the virus has not reached Indian soil but 85% of India is having Aedes species of mosquito. This is a cause of concern as the Zika Virus is known to be transmitted through this species. The Government needs to take a proactive approach to this and efforts should be made to control the breeding of this species of mosquito. Moreover, the recent Pan Indian outbreak of Dengue and it’s deleterious effects, reflects the vulnerability to preventable diseases. The health care system in India needs to work on war footing if an outbreak is to be nipped in the bud.

Video Explanation of the devastating effects of Zika Virus :

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