Zika virus: another serious Global concern

micro.jpgIn recent days, you might have heard about some ‘Zika’ virus in news or read about it in newspapers. Actually what is this, what does it cause and how dangerous it is? Let’s know in details.

What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?

Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

It is not a new virus !!

The Zika virus was first detected in 1947 from a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda.

When did it become a global threat?

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.

Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

By now it has spread in many countries, almost 22 countries of America and 1 each from Africa and pacific Islands.

Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how the virus will spread over time.

Globally there are four categories of countries under serious threat with this virus:

one, countries who have the virus as well as people infected with the virus, like Brazil,

second type is of the countries only with the virus, like Colombia,

third category is of countries like India, who have the vector, and fourth, countries like Chile and Canada who do not have the vector.

 

What are the symptoms of Zika?

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill.

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days.

Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for a few days but it can be found longer in some people.

Severe disease or hospitalization is uncommon though. Deaths are rare too.

How is Zika transmitted?

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found is at risk for infection.

Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?

There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

 

Zika virus spreading explosively: WHO

The Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and can infect upto four million people, the WHO has warned. WHO has issued a warning to all countries, including India, who have the vector of Aedes mosquito that also causes Dengue and Chikungunya. both these viral diseases are of great public health concern to tropical countries like India.

The outbreak began in Brazil 2015 and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas, causing serious birth defects and other neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with an abnormally small head.

“It will go everywhere the mosquito is”, the WHO says.

The outbreak began in Brazil 2015 and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas, causing serious birth defects and other neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with an abnormally small head.

ONE BIG CONCERN

Matters are getting complicated further since the Olympics in 2016 is to be held in Rio, which is the epicenter of this virus outbreak.The concern is also related to lack of immunity of the population that are unexposed to the Zika virus.

Additionally, there are no vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests, available to combat the virus.

 

Treatment

No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.

Get plenty of rest. Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Take proper medicine as prescribed by the doctor.

If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.

An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

A concern for India

India has also been alerted by WHO. India has mosquitoes that cause serious disease like Dengue and Chikungunya and the mosquitoes are also likely to infect Zika virus among humans. Therefore, Zika virus is a big concern in India.

Let’s just hope, scientists might discover it’s cure as soon as possible.

And remember, prevention is the best cure.

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