Zika detected in India: All you need to know about the mosquito-borne virus
In India, the Zika virus–which has no cure or vaccine–was first found in Pune 64 years ago, as part of a survey that was testing immunity to Japanese and Russian varieties of a virus-borne brain infection called encephalitis.india Updated: Jul 10, 2017 07:19 IST
Three people, including a pregnant woman, were found infected with mosquito-borne Zika virus in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.
The cases were picked up during random monitoring and surveillance at the BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. The patients were a 64-year-old man, a 34-year-old new mother and a 22-year-old pregnant woman.
The first infection was detected in February last year, the second in November and the latest one this January. No new cases of the non-fatal disease have since been found.
Here’s all about the deadly virus:
What is Zika?
The virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
In pregnant women, Zika can cause birth defects such as microcephaly - unusually small heads - and other brain abnormalities in babies in the womb. The infection can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis.
There is no treatment or vaccine for the Zika infection.
The virus can show symptoms such as mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or a headache and body ache. But only about 20% of patients show symptoms that usually last up to a week.
How can you avoid the virus?
Check mosquito breeding in and around your house. The mosquito that carries Zika virus - Aedes aegypti - breeds in fresh water so don’t let water collect in birdbaths, planters, non-used bottles, containers, discarded waste, tyres etc.
Use mosquito repellants such as creams, gels, electronic mosquito repellents, patches, incense sticks and bed nets. Grow plants that are known to repel mosquitoes such as citronella, basil, lemon grass, lavender, mint, rosemary etc.
Take special precautions during the day as Aedes aegypti is a day-biting mosquito and dress appropriately that covers most of the body parts.
Why India should fear Zika?
It is strongly suspected to cause birth defects and neurological problems in newborns and as birth rate is high in the country special care needs to be taken. Since India provides fertile climate for the aedes egypti mosquito to grow and multiply, there is the potential of an outbreak situation in the country.
The mosquito also carries dengue and chikungunya viruses that claim 100s of lives and infect 1000s every year. There could be a lack of population immunity against the virus in newly affected areas.