Explainer: Decoding Zika virus, prevention measures

Explainer: Decoding Zika virus, prevention measures

Published on :

Author

Zika virus,

Explainer: Decoding Zika virus, prevention measures 

Given that there is no vaccine yet to prevent Zika virus disease, or medicine to treat the condition, prevention is the key.

With India reporting growing cases of Zika virus infection, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a public health advisory earlier this month. First Check brings you the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the viral disease. 

Zika is a mosquito-borne viral infection, first identified in a captive Rhesus monkey found in Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947. A year later the virus was found in Aedes africanus species of mosquitoes. 

Today, we know that Zika virus is transmitted via the bite of an infected female mosquito of the Aedes species. When an infected female mosquito bites a human, the virus enters the human blood. When another female Aedes mosquito bites the infected human, it gets infected in turn and then keeps spreading the infection. An infected man could transmit the virus via semen during sexual intercourse. 

Zika virus can also be passed from a pregnant person to their fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There’s also a potential risk of transmission during blood transfusion and organ donation. 

Individuals infected with Zika typically remain asymptomatic or exhibit only mild symptoms such as fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain, and red eyes. In the unborn foetus, Zika virus may cause certain developmental problems referred to as congenital Zika syndrome. This includes birth defects, such as smaller than expected head size (microcephaly), brain development issues, and seizures, to name some.

Given that there is no vaccine yet to prevent Zika virus disease, or medicine to treat the condition, prevention is the key. This calls for the elimination of mosquito breeding sites. It is prudent to clean and cover water storage containers, empty air coolers, keep the interiors and exteriors of the home free of junk and clear of waterlogging. Further, mosquito nets can act as barriers against mosquitoes during the duration of one’s sleep.  

In case of symptoms, it’s recommended to seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner immediately. Stay informed with First Check. 

To fact-check health claims, write to us at hello@firstcheck.in or WhatsApp on +91 9311 223145. You can also connect with us on First Check WhatsApp channel

Read More: Explainer: The spread of West Nile Virus

Author