After H1N1 and Ebola, now it is the Zika virus which is making a lot of headlines and making the health officials worry. The Zika Virus has been spreading in Central and South America at a very explosive speed. Over 5000 pregnant women in Colombia have been affected by the Zika virus out of over 32000 cases in the country. Colombia comes second to Brazil as far as the highest number of infected people is concerned. Around 1.5 million people have been infected with this virus in South America’s largest country, Brazil. The Zika virus has spread to around 35 countries now and according to experts in the next twelve months, approximately 4 million people might get infected with this virus.
What is Zika Virus??
Zika Virus is the part of Flaviviridae family and it is connected to the viruses which are the reasons behind diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya etc. In the history of mankind, this virus was first detected in a forest called ‘Zika’ in Uganda in the year 1947. Hardly anyone would have heard about Zika virus two years ago if it was not for its outbreak in 2014 in Brazil. With Olympics in Brazil due this year, most of the athletes have expressed their concern about travelling for the Games. However, Brazil’s President Dilm Rousseff has vowed that Olympics scheduled in August would happen and is working on eradicating Zika virus from Brazil.
The Zika Virus is transmitted in a human being through the Aedes albopictus and Aedesaegypti. The same mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of Dengue. Zika Virus is known to cause Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect which is indicated by shrunken heads of the newborns. Babies born with Microcephaly have brain and head abnormalities. Since last October, the microcephaly rate in Brazil has increased at a swift pace, over 300 out of every 100,000 live births are infected with Microcephaly. As far as adults are concerned, Zika Virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome which results in paralysis and can even cause death.
The aedes mosquito is one of the most dangerous disease-spreading creature in the entire world. This mosquito attacks only human beings and bites during the daytime. It is known to bite around 4-5 people to have at least one blood meal. It breeds in places where there is stagnant water.
Direct human-to-human transmission doesn’t occur but there have been some studies and experiments which suggest that this virus can spread through sexual transmission.
All these symptoms generally last from 2-7 days.
As yet, there is no treatment or vaccine available to get rid of infection caused from Zika virus. If you are having very aggressive symptoms of Zika virus following activities are advised:
- Abundance of rest
- Plenty of fluid intake
- Usual management of fever
- Proper control of pain like headaches
It is of utmost importance that prevention from mosquito bites are ensured Usage of mosquito repellants is advised when indoors. It is also advised to wear long sleeved shirts and in case the weather is quite hot, use mosquito repellant creams. Sleeping under mosquito nets would be helpful. More than anyone, pregnant women should be taken care of. Pregnant women who are planning to travel to the country where Zika virus has been spread should avoid going there and if it is very important to travel, they should be safe from mosquito bites. Pregnant women are highly advised not to travel to Latin American and Caribbean countries.
As a community you can ensure your neighbourhood is clean and there is no place where stagnant water can be seen. All the mosquito breeding sites should be eradicated. It should also be ensured that all the gutters, pipelines, drains are covered properly. The mosquitoes carrying Zika virus can even breed in cap full of water so it is important to keep all the containers, buckets, flower pots, bottles etc. clean and dry. It is not just your duty but also making others aware about it is highly important.
Article By Anmol Sharma.
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