Zika fever or zika virus infection is a mosquito-borne viral disease that generally occurs in subtropical and tropical areas of the world. The virus is passed on by female Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which usually bite during the day.
Zika virus was first found in monkeys in Uganda in the year 1947. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Outbreaks of this disease have been recorded in Africa, America, Asia and the pacific. In India, the first case of Zika virus disease was reported in the year 2017 in Gujarat. 80 other cases which included 22 pregnant women were reported in the western state of Rajasthan. Though there is no current evidence suggesting an ongoing Zika virus outbreak, it is always better to stay aware.
To help you keep safe this monsoon, Dr Binita Priyambada, senior consultant, medical team at Docprime.com shares a few important things you must know about the disease:
Transmission of Zika Virus
When this infected mosquito bites someone, the virus enters into the bloodstream of the person and infects him/her. The virus may also spread from an infected mother to a fetus during pregnancy. In some cases, the virus has also been reported to spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact.
Symptoms pertaining to Zika Virus
Usually, the infection remains asymptomatic. But, some symptoms may appear within two to seven days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with the disease are –
*Pain in the joints or muscles
*Redness in the eyes (conjunctivitis)
Complications that may occur due to Zika virus Disease
If a pregnant woman is infected with Zika virus, the virus can lead to congenital Zika syndrome that may cause the following birth defects:
*Damage to the eye
*Problems in the joints
*Partially collapsed skull
*Damage of the brain tissue
*Microcephaly (small sized skull and brain) and
*Miscarriage or preterm birth
Complications in older children and adults
Guillain-Barre syndrome: Guillain-Barre syndrome is also called acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP). It is a rare medical condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.
Myelitis: It is the inflammation of the spinal cord which tends to disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Symptoms of myelitis include sensory loss and paralysis.
Peripheral neuropathy: Medical conditions which result when nerves which transmit messages to and from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body are diseased or damaged.
How can the disease be prevented?
At present, there is no vaccine that can protect you against the infection. But still, there are some precautions which if adhered to, can help prevent the infection from spreading.
*As per the Center for disease control, pregnant women must not travel to a place where there has been an occurrence of the Zika Virus.
*Condoms must be used while engaging in sexual activity.
In case a person has to travel to a place where an outbreak has taken place, the following precautions can be practiced
*Wear full sleeve clothes
*Use mosquito repellent
*Stay in air-conditioned rooms, where there are fewer chances of a mosquito bite.
Diagnosis and treatment
To diagnose the condition the doctor may begin by asking you some questions about your recent travels and the symptoms you have been facing. In case, the condition is suspected some blood or urine tests may be prescribed.
There is no curative medicine for Zika virus. If a person is infected with the virus, medication is prescribed to control the symptoms till the recovery happens