As we are slowly coming to terms with the after math of the covid pandemic, a new virus poses a threat to us. Zika.
Covid 19 many say was man-made by the researchers and scientists at Wuhan and deliberately let upon us, was hence difficult to tackle. Many of course do not agree with that theory, howsoever, it is still looming around us, a third wave is predicted but luckily not yet to be seen, touch wood, no idea when it will be back to haunt us.
But Zika has made a comeback. From Kerala where it popped its ugly head now to my home state of Maharashtra in India. Looks like it’s a virus’s year out, as one recedes another raises its ugly spike.
Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
What can we as citizens do??? Well, we have to first understand the virus and the mode of transmission and its vectors to tackle it.
Zika virus is a single-stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus. Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The Aedes mosquitoes usually bites during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon or evening. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
Zika virus is transmitted primarily through the bite of an infected female mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person who is infected with the virus. The virus then replicates and spreads within the mosquito so that when the infected mosquito bites again, the virus is spread to another person.
The one good thing is, it can be prevented as the epidemiology is known and studied.
Zika has begun affecting some in the district of Pune in Maharashtra and the government is taking all necessary measures to counter and stop it from spreading.
This, season gives an advantage for its breeding. Eggs of these mosquitoes can remain alive for more than a year and even tiny collections of water is sufficient for it to breed, hence all measures to avoid collection of water has to be looked into.
The way we collect unwanted bottles, broken furniture,scraps of utensils, tires in our backyard, surroundings and roof tops, all spell danger for us. Water in our house planters, pots, in roof drains are all going to help the mosquitoes breed leading to dengue chikungunya and Zika. Hence it is each individual’s responsibility to see that all such unwanted stuff is cleared off immediately.
Care should be taken that water during these rains drain off properly and does not collect giving space for the mosquitoes to breed. All residents should follow certain preventive measures including proper garbage disposal, integrated pest management, and make a collective effort to keep the areas mosquito-free.
Spraying activities and fogging if needed shall be taken care of by the government authorities. Use of larvicides, adulticides, space sprays will help to prevent breeding of mosquitoes and also help eliminate adult mosquitoes. Our responsibility is to see that no mosquito breeds, we should be giving them no chance.
Of course, all the mosquitoes can’t be wished away, hence other measures are also equally important, like prevention of mosquito to human contact, use of long sleeves shirts, full length pants, mosquito repellents and nets are some of them. If breeding and the prevention of mosquito contact with humans is achieved, we will have won half the battle of Zika.
Most people infected by the virus won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms like fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain. The symptoms can last for several days, and if it continues for long, the patient might need admission to a hospital.
Though in most cases, there are no symptoms. in a few cases, Zika can trigger paralysis (Guillain-Barré Syndrome). In pregnant women, it may cause subsequent birth defects.
While there is no specific treatment, paracetamol and rest may help.
Zika is a virus that can cause serious problems during pregnancy. If a pregnant lady gets infected with Zika virus, she can pass it to her baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. It is also linked to other serious problems in the baby.
There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus. Treat the symptoms, take plenty of rest, get hospitalized if needed.
Zika virus has been identified in several body fluids of infected individuals. In most cases, it remains detected in blood from few days to one week after the onset of symptoms, and is known to persist longer in urine and in semen.
Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partners. Use of condoms is recommended to reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.
Yet the fact remains that the major mode of transmission is from the bite of the infected female mosquito, so our focus should be on mosquito control and prevention of mosquito human contact and thereby bites.
To achieve this citizen compliance and cooperation is most necessary. We don’t just save ourselves from Zika but also dengue and chikungunya. Looking forwards to a government citizen collective and combined all out effort in not letting Zika spread. This will give succor to all of us as well as the already overburdened and nearly burnt-out health personnel.