An outbreak of any epidemic calls for learning about it; to avoid its affect on us. This time it is Zika which is fast spreading. Here is an overview of the information gathered by me.
Zika virus is a tropical disease associated with mild symptoms. It is spread from an infected person to other persons by mosquito bites, it is technically called “Arbovirus”. It was once a rare disease and got its name from the Zika forest in Uganda where it was first identified by scientists in 1940s. It was a rare disease and only a handful of Zika cases had ever been documented before 2013. But scientists and doctors began sounding the alarm after multiple outbreaks were discovered in Pacific islands and south-east Asia. Since then, Zika has spread to Brazil which is the worst affected, where it is estimated that as many as 1.5 million people are infected. Zika is now present in 23 countries and the victims are reaching close to 4 million. In USA, 36 cases have been reported and fortunately none in India so far. Brazil the hardest-hit country has reported in addition around 3,700 cases of the devastating birth defect Microcephaly which is strongly suspected to be related to Zika.
With so much international traveling these days, there is every chance of Zika virus spreading to India and we have to take precautions.
As there is no medicine or vaccine to prevent Zika virus disease, the only way out is to avoid mosquito bites. Though mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime, we have to be careful round the clock. We have to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house through shut windows and doors or mosquito netting to the windows. In spite of all these precautions in our house, a few mosquitoes are seen on and off. So mosquito repellents in every form have to be resorted to and sometimes we may have to chase and incinerate them with an electrically charged racquet! And it is always better to keep ourselves well covered.
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and deaths are rare. However the gravest risk is to ladies in the family way, as Zika infection is linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains. So great is the fear that women in Zika affected countries are being advised to delay getting pregnant.
As no particular medication is available for Zika infections, some regular medicines under medical supervision are administered for controlling temperature and pain. Patients are advised plenty of rest and to have copious fluids with their diet.