The Zika virus has already captured the attention of a major part of the world. It’s a newly discovered virus that has frightened most of the pregnant women in Latin America. Our fear is – Can the Zika virus reach India too?
The fear prevails since the virus is circulating via Latin America’s travellers, in Thailand and Maldives. This pattern indicates that an Indian may become a potential host for Zika virus since our country has a similar environment.
Infection from Zika virus occurs if a person is bitten by the Aedes mosquito. Dengue virus is also transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, and this mosquito is found in India widely.
Currently, symptoms are being showed by only 20% of the individuals infected with Zika virus. The fear of the health officials is that, if Aedes mosquito bites a person who is infected and has come to India, the Zika virus may spread quite fast in India too.
That’s why an advisory has been issued by the Indian Medical Association, recommending the pregnant women of India to avoid any visit to Latin America. This warning has been given after the WHO conveyed an emergency committee for discussing about the rapid spread of the virus in the continent’s 23 countries. Though no casesof the Zika virus have been reported in India upto now, however, the authorities are cautious because the conditions in our country are quite similar to the conditions of sub-tropical and tropical America.
Cases of Zika Virus Infection till Now:
31 cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in the US, and in all the cases,the infection has affected people who travelled to the regions influenced by the virus. In Brazil alone, there are possibly 1 million Zika infection cases since last September. There have been 4,000 instances of children born with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth disorder that has been established casually with the Zika viral infection.
5 things we need to know about the Zika virus are as follows:
1.Transmission of the virus born disease is carried out by the Aedesmosquito that serves as the vector. This mosquito breed also spreads dengue. The Zika virus spreads when an infected person is bitten by an Aedesmosquito, and then the mosquito bites others.
2. Zika virus is quite similar to the virus of dengue and chikungunia, and leads to similar symptoms such as fever and body ache. Often there are no symptoms, increasing the difficulty of pregnant women in knowing whether or not the virus has infected them. However, a casual connection has been established between the Zika virus and microcephaly, which is a neurological birth disorder that can lead to fatal consequences or anomalies in development.
3.Currently, no vaccine or treatment is available to beat the virus. So, taking prevention measures is important, which include avoiding bites by mosquitoes and not visiting the areas affected by Zika virus. If infected, minimization of the damage can be done by making sure that the disease doesn’t spread.
4.Most countries of South and Central America are currently infected, which include Venezuela, U.S. Virgin Islands, Samoa, Suriname, Saint Martin, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Panama, Mexico, Martinique, Honduras, Haiti, Guyana, Guatemala, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, El Salvador, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Cape Verde, Brazil, Bolovia, and Barbados.
5.Olympic Games that are to be organized in Brazil, have also put forth a concern. It has been reported that the International Olympic Committee’s president would be closely in contact with the WHO and the Brazilian authorities. The Games are about to be organized in August 2016.
Precautions to take in India:
Before the Zika virus reaches in our country, we should follow the standard measures for protection against mosquitoes. Here are the measures we should take:
- Use mosquitorepellents and pesticides
- Wear long dresses having long sleeves
- Wear thick clothing to prevent mosquito bites
- Sleep in air-conditioned spaces
- Use mosquito netting
- Keep screens on the doors and windows