Buzz 46Buzz 46: What’s Zika Virus, How Does It Spread & How Can...

Buzz 46: What’s Zika Virus, How Does It Spread & How Can You Prevent It?

Mosquitoes are a nuisance and every Indian knows how to deal with those annoying pesky things. They bite you, suck your blood and leave the skin itching. And while they are, for the most part, just bothersome, they also cause infections and illnesses that require medical attention. Dengue, malaria, chikungunya are some widely known diseases spread by mosquitoes. But one infection that’s far more deadly than these and is currently spreading in certain states of India is the Zika virus.

Kerala reported its first case of Zika virus infection in July 2021 after a 24-year-old pregnant woman from Parassala near Thiruvananthapuram tested positive for the disease.

To understand more about this virus, its nature, the symptoms to look out for and the available treatment options, TC46 connected with Infectious Disease Specialist Dr Anita Mathew of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai. Here she shares the origin of the disease and some vital dos and don’ts to stay safe.

What Exactly Is Zika Virus?

The vector through which Zika gets transmitted is like that of dengue and chikungunya. It spreads mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquitoes bite during the day and night. For most people, Zika virus infection is not a serious issue. But it can be dangerous among pregnant women, especially for fetuses. The infection can cause microcephaly, a brain disability condition, or other conditions called congenital Zika syndrome. 

The virus easily transmits from a pregnant woman to her fetus. It can also spread through: 

  • Sexual contact
  • Transfusion of blood and blood products
  • Organ transplantation

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 and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Key Symptoms Of Zika Virus

  • Mild to high fever
  • Rashes
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Nausea and vomiting

Maharashtra has reported its first-ever case of Zika virus infection. The 50-year-old woman patient from Purandar area in Pune district also tested positive for Chikungunya. A state health department release said she has recovered and she and her family members have no symptoms at present.

Dos & Don’ts To Prevent Infection

If you take the necessary precautions, there is no cause to worry. But, if you observe any changes in your body, especially the symptoms mentioned in the above section, you should immediately consult your doctor. Remember, any delay can cause undesired complications. Also, do not indulge in self-medication. Take these precautionary measures to stay protected and safe.

Safety Guidelines For Infected People

  • Stay indoors
  • Take as much rest as possible
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Pregnant women should refrain from travelling, mainly to infected areas

Patients are requested to note that no specific treatment is required for this infection and normally, it is a self-limiting condition.

Preventive Methods

Since there is no treatment or vaccine available, reducing the risk of being bitten is the only option. Since the mosquito bites mostly during the daytime, making sure that the living areas are clean and no stagnant water is seen, emptying pots and buckets is important, as mosquitoes lay their eggs in such water.

  • Wear full-sleeved clothes
  • Ensure doors and windows are closed
  • Apply mosquito or insect repellents
  • Drink only boiled water
  • Consume fresh homemade food
  • Avoid using Aspirin to treat fever
  • Visit your medical expert if symptoms persist
  • Make sure your home is well ventilated
  • Avoid touching your nose and mouth with your hand without washing them
  • Avoid visiting crowded places to reduce your risk of viral infections

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