Wed, 18 Sep, 2019

Zika Virus: Stay Alert

By Shreeya Pandey

Photo Courtesy: http://wgntv.com/2016/01/31/zika-virus-spreading-explosively/ 

Zika virus was discovered in 1947 and it got its name after the Zika forest. Since 1952, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in different parts of tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. Before 2007, at least, 14 cases of Zika had been documented. Due to its similarity with many other diseases, many cases might not have been diagnosed.

On 1st February 2016, the world health organization(WHO) declared Zika virus. A public health emergency of international concern after Pan American health organization (PAHO) had issued an alert regarding 1st confirmed zika virus on may 2015.

Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.

The symptoms of this disease are quite similar to that of dengue and chickengunia and they include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis followed by muscle pain and headache. The incubation period for this disease is not exactly known but it varies from a few days to a week.

If Zika virus is suspected, then blood tests are carried out (done at CDC with virus reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction tests). This test also helps in differentiating between similar infections such as dengue and chikungunya.

There is no specific medicine that can treat this infection. As we know, “prevention is better than cure”, we have to try our best to keep ourselves away from this disease. Since mosquitoes and their breeding sites are the major cause of this disease, therefore, the contact between humans and mosquitoes must be reduced. This could be done by using mosquito repellant regularly, using physical barriers such as closed doors and windows and sleeping under a mosquito net. It is very important to empty, clean or cover containers that store water as it is one of the major breeding sites of mosquito.