What is Zika virus?
- Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.
- The vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya. Additionally, infected people can transmit Zika sexually.
- First identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys, Zika was detected in humans five years later.
- In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.
What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
- Most people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms.
- When they are manifested, the symptoms are similar to those of flu, including fever, bodyache, headache etc.
- If the symptoms worsen, people should seek medical advice. Additional symptoms can include the occasional rash like in dengue, while some patients also have conjunctivitis.
- The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3-14 days.
How do you treat Zika virus?
- Zika has no treatment or vaccine. The symptoms of Zika virus are mild and usually require rest, consumption of plenty of fluids, and common pain and fever medicines, according to the WHO.
- Governments take mosquito control measures such as spraying of pesticides, use of repellents etc. Because of the possibility of congenital abnormalities and sexual transmission, there is also focus on contraceptives.
- The WHO requires countries to counsel sexually active men and women on the matter to minimise chances of conception at the time of an outbreak.
History of Zika virus in India
- In India, Zika virus was first recorded in 1952-53. The latest major outbreak was in 2018, when 80 cases were reported in Rajasthan around the months of September and October.
Why in the news?
- The Government has asked people to remain extra vigilant as the infection of zika virus is spreading rapidly.