If you believed that mosquitoes only cause malaria, dengue and chikungunya, you are wrong. Because, according to a recent WHO (World Health Organization) report, mosquitoes act as a vector for spreading a deadly disease known as zika. A native of Africa and Asia, zika is a viral infection caused by mosquito bite of Aedes mosquitoes, the strain that also transmits dengue and chikungunya. Unlike the other two diseases, zika has been declared a global emergency by the WHO. Here is what Dr Sudhir Kumar has to say about zika.
Zika is caused when a mosquito infected with the zika virus bites a healthy person. However, this is not the only mode of transmission. According to WHO, the virus can be spread through bodily fluids including saliva and urine and also from mother to baby during the initial stages of pregnancy, as the virus can be found in the amniotic fluid and placenta. As the virus can be transmitted through blood or seminal fluid, it is advised to be extra careful during blood transfusion and sexual intercourse. Click on the link to know more about how the zika virus spreads.
The risk of suffering from zika is high if you are -
- Immuno-compromised patients like those suffering from heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and elderly people and young kids.
- Those residing in mosquito-infested areas
- Travelling to zika-affected nations.
Don't panic, watch this video to know everything about the virus.
According to Dr Sandeep Sonawane, Consultant Physician, Sunshine Hospital, Nerul, Navi Mumbai, the symptoms of zika virus are almost the same as in the case of flu. These are -
Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Myalgia (muscle pain) and/ joint pain
Here's more on the six symptoms of zika viral disease everyone should know.
After the mosquito bite, it usually takes around two to seven days for the symptoms to appear. According to The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), one out of every four people infected with the virus show symptoms.
As of now, no diagnostic guidelines have been released by the Indian government. However, it is usually done based on the symptoms and blood tests like CBC (Complete blood count) might help in detection of platelet count and RBCs. Also, ultrasound might help in detection of fetal brain development in case of pregnant women.
However, there have been reports that Brazilian researchers have developed a molecular test to detect Zika virus, which helps in detection of the virus in flat five hours. Here's more on the test to detect Zika designed by Brazillian scientists.
Unlike Swine flu and Ebola, Zika is not an air-borne disease and hence, there is no need to quarantine a patient. As the disease is symptomatic (shows symptoms), the patient is usually treated for the symptoms. Although there is no set guidelines for the treatment of Zika virus received by hospitals from the Indian Government, the primary aim treatment in such a case is to treat the patient based on the symptoms, says Dr Sudhir. It might include use of medications like paracetamol to lower the temperature and fever. However, aspirin is a strict no-no as it might further decrease platelet count. In case of low platelet count, the first line of treatment is to keep the patient hydrated with intravenous fluids, says Dr Sudhir. In addition to this, painkillers or any other medications are prescribed based on the symptoms and condition of the patient.
Clinial trials are going on to develop vaccine against zika virus. However, it might take few years for the vaccine to be made available. So should we be scared about the unavailability of zika vaccine and its spread in India? Click to know the answer.
Dr Sonawane says, serious complications can include paralysis and liver failure, and the prognosis of the disease is very poor since very little information is currently available.
While researchers were still debating the link between zika virus and microcephaly as no clear evidence was established, Slovenian scientists proved that the relation exists after they found zika virus in the brain of the foetus of a European woman, who later underwent an abortion. The findings were substantiated with an autopsy and ultrasound which strengthened the association between zika virus and microcephaly. According to the researchers, the birth defect might be due to the replication of the virus in the brain of the foetus. Here is detailed information on the link between the zika virus and microcephaly.
Moreover, zika infection can also lead to a vision-threatening eye disease in infants with microcephaly, revealed a new study. Here's more on how zika infection may cost infants their vision.
According to the researcher, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the zika virus can remain in a dormant stage after infection for a week to around 62 days. While it can be found in the blood around a week or ten days after a person is infected with the virus, there has been evidence stating that the virus can be found in the semen for 62 days after infection. As the virus settles itself in parts of the body that are protected from the action of immune cells, it further hastens the detection and treatment of the infection.
Here's more on how the Zika virus hides in body parts, protected from the immune system
As Zika is caused due to a bite of a zika virus infected mosquito, the only way to prevent zika is to avoid mosquito bites. Here are some of the common tips to prevent ZIka.
- Prevent mosquito breeding
- Wear clothes that cover your entire body
- Use mosquito repellents
- Spray mosquito repellents on clothes
- Use mosquito nets for sleeping
- Cover your doors and windows
- Avoid travelling to zika affected countries
Even knowing about the top 10 favorite spots of mosquitoes might help you in keeping your home safe from mosquitoes.
- Potted plants
- Water tanks
- Cooler/ AC trays
- Dustbin or trash can
- Buckets or pails
- Open windows or door screens
- Corners of your home
- Open drainage system
- Uneven roads or surfaces
- Construction sites with water pooling
The content has been verified by Dr Sudhir Kumar, senior consultant neurologist, Institute of Neurosciences and Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad