Zika Virus in Kerala: Health authorities have declared a state of alert in Kerala, India after 14 cases of Zika virus were detected.
- Of the 19 samples sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune last, 14 were found to be positive for Zika virus.
- The total number of Zika virus cases in Kerala stands at 14, including the first case of 24-years old pregnant woman.
- The Union Health Ministry on July 9, 2021 stated that a six-member central team of experts has also been dispatched to Kerala to get a grip on the emerging Zika virus situation in the state.
What is Zika virus?
- As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first detected in monkeys in Uganda in 1947.
- Later, the virus was detected in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania in 1952.
- Outbreaks of Zika virus have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific.
- From the 1960s to the 1980s, rare sporadic cases of human infections were found across Africa and Asia.
- A major outbreak in Brazil in 2015 revealed that it can lead to severe birth defects when pregnant women are infected.
- The Zika virus has been associated with a rare auto-immune disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome and shrunken brains in children.
- As of now, there is no treatment for the Zika virus.
How does the Zika virus spread?
- Zika virus is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquitos (Aedes aegypti).
- The Aedes species of mosquitos usually bite during the early hours of the day and late evening hours.
- This is the same species of mosquitos that are the carriers of dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya.
- Zika virus can also transmit from pregnant woman to her fetus, or transfusion of blood, or through sexual contacts, or organ transplant.
- The symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, headache, rashes, joint and muscle pain, malaise, conjunctivitis.
- It usually takes around 3 to 14 days for the symptoms to show up from the time of being bitten.
- The symptoms last for approximately 2 to 7 days.
- Most people do not develop symptoms, one in five people infected show symptoms.
- Protection against mosquito bites during the day and early evening is a key measure to prevent Zika virus infection.
- Special attention should be given to the prevention of mosquito bites among pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and young children, according to the WHO.
- Personal protection measures include wearing clothing, using physical barriers such as window screens and closed doors and windows, and applying insect repellent to skin.
- Additionally, the WHO advises young children and pregnant women to sleep under mosquito nets if sleeping during the day or early evening.
- Travelers and those living in affected areas should take the same basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
- Aedes mosquitoes breed in small collections of water. It is important to eliminate these mosquito breeding sites.
Zika virus: Previous outbreaks in India:
- India had earlier in 2016-17 reported a Zika virus outbreak in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.