What is Zika Virus? Will it create another Pandemic?
As we are recovering from Covid-19 side by side, another threatened infection has risen in the name of “Zika”. The state of Kerala has become the victim of this Zika infection in India.
What is Zika?
Basically, Zika is a virus. As we all know, viruses are tiny infectious parasites which can only be produced by infecting a host cell. Zika is a single stranded RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family.
Zika structure and scientific name
Zika is an enveloped virus which is small spherical in size (approximately 50nm in diameter ) and it is a single stranded RNA virus covered with a capsid which is known as a protective protein coat.
- It’s scientific name is also ZIKA (Zika Virus)
- It belongs to the FLAVIVIRIDAE family and FLASUVIRICETES class.
- And it’s related to the ORTHORNAVIRAE Kingdom, KITRINO RICOTA Phylum.
- And it comes under the AMARILLO VIRALES in order.
Emergence of Zika virus
In 1947, while doing research on Yellow fever, Alexander John Haddow (part of the researchers team) discovered a new virus that made their experimental rhesus monkey sick.
As it was discovered in the Zika forest of Uganda,they named the new virus as “Zika”.
Earliest discovery of Zika
At first it was discovered in a rhesus monkey.In 1952 only, it was identified in humans.There were no notable outbreaks from 1969-1983.Only 14 cases were documented in Africa and Asia with mild symptoms
In 2007,Island of Yap was reported to have the first largest outbreak of Zika infection. Since then, across 20 countries were infected and documented Zika infection, fortunately none of these cases were ever sentenced to death.
Northeastern states reported nearly 7000 cases of Zika with skin rash from February 2015 to 29 April 2015.On May 15, Zika virus was transmitted from Brazil to South America. And Brazil has reported that Zika has been associated with Guillain Barre Syndrome in July , and also Microcephaly in October.
When it was proven,The World Health Organization set up a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.Around the world, 86 countries and territories became a victim of this Zika infection upto date.
Diffusion of Zika virus In human
- Primarily it spreads by an infected insects bite or sting
- Mostly, an Aedes species of mosquitoes which are agile in day time transmit this virus (aegypti, albopictus) and these are the same species which spread the DENGUE and CHIKUNGUNYA virus.
- Secondly, it passed when an infected person having an undefended sex.And can pass from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
Indications And complications of Zika
Most Zika affected individuals do not have any specific symptoms. Symptoms can present 3 to 7 days after infection.
The most common derived symptoms are
- Red Itchy Rashes (Technically named “Maculopapular”)
- Joint Pain
- Muscle pain
Zika virus only stays in the blood for a particular time and there is no harm once it is cleared.
However,If a pregnant woman get infected with Zika, it may lead a miscarriage or preterm birth or cause certain birth defects (microcephaly) such as baby with smaller head, abnormal brain development, delay in speech and muscle functions.
Precautions of Zika virus
In order to control Zika, we have to take some safety measures.
- We can use EPA(Environmental protection Agency)registered insect repellent which contains active ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin,IR3535,Lemon eucalyptus oil.
- Mosquito netting is the best one for the children younger than 3 years instead of using this repellent
- Everyone ,especially pregnant, breastfeeding women should take plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and can use insect repellent on their skin.
- Maximum we can avoid travelling where there Zika infected
- Using condoms can reduce the spread of Zika virus from sex or not having sex.
Precautions at home
As there are no specific vaccines or antiviral treatment for the Zika virus, it’s our concern to prevent ourselves from mosquito bite and taking precautions to reduce the mosquitoes’ habitat.
Take these following steps to control the mosquitoes’ habitat in and around your house.
- Keep all the door screens (curtains)fully covered and windows closed.
- Cover the water storage containers tightly.
- Never let water be stagnant anywhere. Because it is the right place for the mosquitoes to lay eggs which can survive in dry conditions and hatch into larvae in 2 to 4 days in the presence of water.
- use mosquito netting while sleeping.
Diagnostic tests for Zika infection
By blood and urine test we can confirm whether the person Zika positive or negative
- As there are no specified symptoms derived, tests can be taken based on the person’s recent travel history, symptoms and blood, urine test results.
Vaccine for Zika virus
- There is specific medicine or Vaccine for Zika infection.
- Walter Reed Army Institute of research has taken steps to find a vaccine which is currently under development.
Zika infection in Kerala
Zika virus is a recent epidemic and a present significant challenge to the world health organization.The Zika infection outbreak in Kerala reaches 21
And our neighbouring state Kerala states that Zika infection is keenly monitored and steps are taken to clear the area where infections spread.
Precautionary action in Tamilnadu
As Kerala became the victim of Zika infection, the Tamilnadu government strengthened vehicle checking and maintained tight surveillance in tactical places.
Even though our governments provide timely advice, it’s our responsibility to take preventive measures on time and avoid some circumstances to the welfare of our country.
By following, precautionary measures can avoid the pandemic.