Zika Virus Disease has become a major global concern in the last few years. This disease originally spread from Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa to the rest of the continent and also to Asia, North and South America and the pacific region. But until 2007, it was only seen in Africa. As the name suggests, Zika Virus Disease is a condition that is caused by the Zika Virus that finds a favourable host in Aedes mosquitoes.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of this disease are fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and a constant feeling of discomfort. The virus is seen to causes brain damage in unborn children if the mother contracts the disease while she is pregnant. The child is usually born with a small head (microcephaly) and other congenital brain anomalies. It has also been observed that Zika Virus damages the nervous system and results in Guillain-Barré syndrome where muscles become weak due to the damage to the peripheral nervous system. This virus is seen to dwell in various body fluids like blood, semen, urine, saliva and even in the fluids present in the eye of an infected person.
How the virus is transmitted:
Zika Virus is transported through the Aedes aegypti mosquito from one infected person to another. It was observed that this disease can be transmitted sexually, even if a person doesn’t have the illness and is just a carrier of the virus.
The mosquitos spreading the Zika virus usually live at an altitude below 6,500 feet. This makes the whole of South America, the southern North America, central Africa and the Indo-Pacific region a sweet spot for the spread of this disease. It was not until 2015 that Zika started spreading in the United States and the Caribbean region. The first case of this disease in India was found in February 2016. This year three cases of Zika were reported in May from Gujarat.
Prevention and treatment:
The best way to stay safe from the Zika Virus Disease is to stay away from mosquitos. Though there are other reasons that cause this disease to spread, mosquito bites are regarded as the most common cause. These mosquitos tend to bite in the day time. Hence using mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, wearing covered clothes when visiting a mosquito infested place is necessary to protect yourself.
Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever are all caused by the same breed of mosquitoes. The Aedes mosquito has distinct white markings on its legs. This particular breed of mosquitos originated in Africa and is now found across the globe. On spotting such mosquitos near your area, inform the local administration so that they can take preventive measures.
Avoiding accumulation and stagnation of water for a long period of time is another very important measure that should be taken to check the breeding of these mosquitos.
A pregnant lady should avoid visiting areas that are affected Zika virus. The risk of the child being born with abnormalities increases during such circumstances. Currently, there are no vaccines available for the Zika Virus disease. The treatment is done entirely based on the symptoms, where fever and body pain (the symptoms of Zika) are treated with medications along with plenty of rest prescribed. It is also advised to stay in a hygienic environment to prevent any aggravation of its symptoms.