Zika Virus in India: Here’s What You Need to Know About It

Zika Virus in India: Here’s What You Need to Know About It

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The Health Ministry on October 8, 2018 confirmed 22 cases of Zika virus in Rajasthan, stressing that precautionary measures are being taken by the Centre followed by daily monitoring.

"A total of 22 positive laboratory-confirmed cases have been detected. A control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to undertake regular monitoring of the situation," said the ministry in a statement.

Earlier, in September 2018, an 85-year-old woman in Jaipur tested positive for the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the first such case in Rajasthan. The woman was admitted to the Sawai Man Singh hospital with joint pain, redness in eyes and weakness but she tested negative for dengue and swine flu.

Samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for a test of Zika virus and the report came out positive, principal of the SMS medical college Dr US Agrawal said on Sunday.

"I believe this is the first case of Zika virus in the state," he added.

Here’s all you need to know about the virus.

Q) How does the virus spread?

A) It is spread to people mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito; the same one that causes dengue.

Spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
Spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

Q) How long can the virus stay in the body?

A) If infected, Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week.

Zika virus remains in the blood for a week.
Zika virus remains in the blood for a week.

Q) What are the symptoms of Zika?

A) Remember this is not usually a life threatening illness with only 1 in 5 infected people showing symptoms of disease.  Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. They typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Most people never need to be admitted and deaths due to this virus are very rare.

Symptoms of Zika virus
Symptoms of Zika virus

Q) Why has Zika become a part of our Lexicon?

A) The latest country to report cases of Zika is India. These patients were all from Ahmedabad, according to the World Health Organisation.

Zika has been around for decades. However there has been an increase in the number of babies in south and central America have been born with a small skull, a condition called“microcephaly”. Though not conclusively proven, it is STRONGLY SUSPECTED pregnant women with Zika might give birth to babies with abnormally small heads, which has set off a worldwide scare.

Babies born with abnormally small heads.
Babies born with abnormally small heads.

Q) What can we do to prevent being infected by the virus?

A) If you are traveling countries that have reported cases of Zika, take precautions against mosquito bites. Currently there is no vaccine, so till one is developed, prevention is truly better than cure.

No vaccine for Zika.
No vaccine for Zika.

Q) Treatment for Zika?

A) There is no specific treatment for the virus. Doctors advice rest and relaxation. Keep hydrated, take medicines like paracetemol to help reduce fever and pain.

Prevention is better than cure.
Prevention is better than cure.

Zika has been around for decades, but it has never spread at such a large-scale before; scientists are just beginning to understand it fully. The consequences might be a hype or could be understated – whatever it is, since there is no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine, you better keep a repellent handy. Be aware, be prepared, not scared!

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