The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus as being a global public health emergency. The organization has observed an explosive spread of the dreaded virus across the world which is spread by mosquitoes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito which transfers chikungunya and dengue is the same that transfers the Zika virus. India is considered to be at a great risk for this virus considering the wide swathe of regions that face a mosquito menace. Scientists believe that this is a heat driven virus and will only intensify its spread with rising temperatures. The hotter it gets the better the mosquito transferring this virus can spread different illnesses. With summer already here, it is imperative that we know enough about the disease in order to take enough precautions.
But unlike chikungunya and dengue Zika is not a life-threatening disease and is self-remitting. In most cases the symptoms exhibited by someone who has contracted the Zika virus is the same as someone that has contracted dengue. Those individuals that travel frequently should get their blood tested with special focus on the IgM antibodies. The first Zika virus infection was confirmed in Brazil in 2015, this is more than 50 years after the virus was first discovered in monkeys in Uganda.
Symptoms of the Zika virus:
- Signs of mild fever
- Redness or soreness of the eyes or conjunctivitis
- Joint aches
- Guillian-Barre syndrome, a rare nervous system disorder has also been linked to the infection
- Zika virus can linger in your blood for over a week
- It can be transmitted through sexual intercourse
This disease does not have a treatment or vaccine as of yet and more often than not rest and plenty of fluids are suggested. It can have a severely detrimental effect on babies developing in the womb and can lead them to developing microcephaly.
What is microcephaly?
- It is a condition that can lead to a below average head size in babies
- This is a condition that is often caused by a failure of the brain to grow at a normal rate
- It leads to head circumference in the range of 31.5 cm to 32 cm
- It affects around 25,000 children in the US every year
- The children that survive often face intellectual disability and developmental problems
- Cases of microcephaly linked with the Zika virus have been seen in Brazil
The mosquitos that transfer the virus are most active during the day, unlike the malaria carrying mosquitos that do most of their work at night. Keeping insect repellant handy, wearing long sleeved clothes are just a couple of things you can do to make sure you are safe. If your wife is pregnant and you do not want to take chances, make sure you use condoms. Keeping no standing water around your house can also help curb the proliferation of these mosquitos. The Center for Disease Control, US has advised pregnant women not to travel to severely affected areas.
Steps being taken
While testing kits are being actively prepped and prepared in Brazil, there are scientists that have been endorsing the use of genetically modified neutral mosquitos that curb the population of the virus carrying mosquitos by 90%. US officials say that Zika vaccine trials will begin in September and larger trials could be slated around 2017. 2018 seems to be the year when, in all possibilities, the vaccine will be available to the people.
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