Recently, the WHO confirmed cases of Zika virus infections in the Indian state of Gujarat. Since then, more and more people now want to know about this virus that has previously created large-scale epidemics in South and Central America last year. To them all, Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease spread by the Aedes species of mosquito. The disease is spread by the same species responsible for the transmission of dengue and chikungunya virus, which are common in India.
Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes are mostly active during the day which is quite unlike those that carry the malaria virus. Thus, people are not likely to benefit much from the traditional safety measures including the use of mosquito nets. The first reported cases of the Zika virus were reported in the 1950’s in Africa and further cases have been reported since, mostly emerging from tropical areas.
With due care, people can stop the virus from infecting them and others. They have to take care so that the virus is not spread to others. Keeping mosquitoes in check and avoiding being bitten by them goes a long way in helping people stay safe from the virus and its risks. This virus may also be transmitted via sexual contact with an infected person.
Symptoms of the Zika virus
For patients, it’s never easy to recognize signs and symptoms of Zika virus as they can be unclear and generally last for 6-7 days only. Only a blood test can confirm the presence of the virus. Even those infected with this virus don’t need hospitalisation in most cases and death is a rare possibility.
The following are some signs and symptoms of the Zika virus –
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Pain in the eyes
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Rash development
- Guillain-Barré syndrome in rare cases (an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system)
Treatment of the Zika virus
Till now, no vaccination or treatment is available for the Zika virus. Unlike the malaria test kit that lets you check yourself, you cannot check for the Zika virus by yourself. With no specific medicines available, you have to treat the symptoms. The following are some ways to treat the symptoms of the virus:
- Increased fluid intake to stop dehydration
- Use of acetaminophen to relive pain and fever
- Avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) till the risk of dengue is out
Prevention of the Zika virus
Since Zika virus is spread by the Aedes species of mosquito, its prevention can also be possible by avoiding mosquito bites. For that, you have to try all the methods and steps that keep the virus-carrying species away from you.
Here are some of ways to prevent Zika virus –
- Use insect repellents
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved garments to keep as much skin covered as possible
- Use mosquito nets
- Run the AC (air-conditioner) as mosquitos do not find too cool temperatures suitable
- Use window and door screens
- Don’t let water get collected in any place or inside any hollow item in or near the house as mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water
- Avoid travelling to countries that make you at a greater risk of the virus
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse as the virus can also be transmitted sexually from one person to another.