Beware of Zika

The alarming rise in Zika affected patient and more than 1000 cases of microcephaly – a case where babies are born with undeveloped brain or small heads are the reason we should know more about Zika.

Zika virus is named after the Zika forest in Uganda, where it was identified in rhesus monkeys during a yellow fever outbreak in 1947.

The disease spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is also known carrier of dengue and chikungunya viruses. Also, an infected mother can pass on the virus to her newborn child. The number of microcephaly cases gives a growing evidence of a causal link between Zika virus infection in pregnancy and births.

The common symptoms of Zika include mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headaches and joint pain. But as these symptoms are seen after 3 to 5 days so it is hard to detect in early stages of infection.

The scary truth that many years after we found the virus, not enough research is done to find the cure and as of now there is no vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat it. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.

Aedes mosquito carrier of dengue outbreak seen in Delhi last year is a carrier of Zika virus and it won’t be any surprise if we see Zika cases in India in coming days. But with the proper response and immediate action we can restrict disease before it turns into epidemic like H1N1 and Ebola.

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But before that at the personal level, we should start taking preventive measures to avoid the viral infection. Controlling mosquito breeding in the nearby area, covering exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use of insect repellent, staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms are common preventive measures.

Start acting now because prevention is the only option when there is no cure.