Zika virus – A Mosquito-borne illness possibly linked to birth defects – is on the rise globally

What is Zika virus?

An emerging mosquito- borne virus is Zika virus. It was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947. It was spotted through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. In 1952, it was spotted in humans in Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania. Subsequently, Zika virus was diagnosed in Africa, America, Asia and Pacific in 2007 and 2013.Zika Virus usually bites during morning and late afternoon or evening hours.

Where is Zika Virus?

Recently, Zika virus disease outbreaks were identified in 2015 from America (specifically in Brazil and Colombia) and Africa Cabo Verde). Indicating the rapid geographic expansion of Zika virus, it was reported in more than 13 countries in the Americas.

What are the symptoms of Zika?

However, the incubation period of Zika virus is disease in not apparent but it last for few days. Its symptoms are similar to arbovirus infections like dengue. The patient may have fever, skin rashes, conjunctives, muscle and joint pain, headache and malaise. Symptoms may be mild but it usually last for 2-7 days.

How Zika virus is transmitted?

A bite of an infected mosquito from Aedes genus majorly from ‘Aedes aegypti’ in tropical regions transmits the disease to people. The same mosquito transmits the dengue, chikunguniya and yellow fever. There were two cases that were reported to be s*xually transmitted. In one additional case, presence of Zika virus in semen was also reported.

How long does Zika virus last?

Zika virus usually lasts for at least two days and maximum up to a week.

Is Zika virus contagious?

During infection, Zika virus is found in the blood. It can be transmitted from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito is the only source of this virus transmission.

How Zika Virus is Diagnosed?

Depending on the symptoms, Zika virus is suspected. However, recent history of the infected person can also be helpful in diagnosis. It is only laboratory testing of blood and body fluids such as saliva or urine through which Zika virus diagnosis can be confirmed.

What are the Potential Complications?

During recent outbreaks if Zika virus in French Polynesia in 2013 and in Brazil in 2015, the national health authorities reported potential complications related to neurology and auto-immunity. In Brazil, there has been an increase in Guillain-Barre syndrome that coincided with Zika virus. In another case, there has been increase in number of babies born with microcephaly. According to agencies, there is a link between Zika and microcephaly. But more evidences are needed to understand it thoroughly. Investigation is going on to find the relationship and potential causes between the two.

How do you prevent Zika virus?

Significant risk factors for Zika virus infection are mosquitoes and their bredding sites. Prevention and control is based on the reduction of mosquitoes through source reduction. Reduction of contact between people and mosquitoes is also one of the prevention measures. Few of the prevention measures are:
• Use insect repellant regularly.
• Wear light-colored clothes
• Keep window screens and doors closed.
• Sleep under mosquito nets even during day hours.
• Water reservoirs such as pots, drums or buckets should be cleaned regularly.
• Mosquito breeding sites should be cleaned or removed.
• Supporting the efforts of government to avert the density of mosquitoes.

Insecticides should be sprayed as recommended by health authorities during outbreaks. Larvicides can also be used for the treatment of huge water containers. Travelers, who are traveling to the infected areas, shall also take the basic precaution and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

How do you treat Zika Virus disease?

Though there is no specific treatment required for zika virus disease but the patients should take plenty of rest, drink fluids and treat fever & headache through general medicines. If situation does not get controlled, seek medical advice and care. At present, no vaccination is available.

Zika Virus Countries

  • Brunei
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)