Health authorities in Kerala have declared a state of alert in all districts after identifying 14 cases of Zika virus.
What is Zika?
- Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus.
- The viral infection is transmitted mostly by the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes ( aegypti and A. albopictus).
- These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
- These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
- Additionally, it can be transmitted sexually and blood transfusion (very likely but not confirmed).
- Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda.
- In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected.
- Since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
- In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.
- WHO declared the Zika infection with clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Passage to India
- First recorded in 1952-53, India reported an outbreak in Gujarat in 2016-17.
- This was followed by major outbreaks in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in 2018.
- Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are
- Joint pain
- Red eyes
- Muscle pain
- Symptoms can last for several days to a week.
- People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
- Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Risky for some people
- Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
- It is also linked to other problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects.
- There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.
- There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus.
- But the symptoms are managed which includes rest, consumption of plenty of fluids, common pain and fever medicines, etc.