While the country is still battling the coronavirus and bracing itself for a possible third wave, new infections and diseases are undeterred. As per the latest reports, the southern state of Kerala has reported 15 confirmed cases of the Zika virus. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne viral infection, a cure is not yet known.
The virus was first detected in the blood samples of a 24-year old pregnant woman in the state’s capital Thiruvananthapuram. The woman delivered her baby on June 7 and as per doctors, her condition is stable. The patient was diagnosed at KIMS, where she was hospitalized for her delivery.
As per a government release, the condition of the women was satisfactory. Though she does not have any travel history outside the state, her house is on the Tamil Nadu border. A week ago, her mother had also shown similar symptoms, a government release added.
Subsequently, 19 other cases of the virus were suspected in the state. These samples were sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. As per the latest reports by Malayalam state news channels, 15 of those 19 cases have now been confirmed as cases of Zika virus.
Until yesterday evening, only 13 were suspected to be positive – all of whom were healthcare workers including doctors – however, it turns out that there are more positives than was expected. The Zika virus is a viral infection spread through the Aedes mosquito. It is the same species of mosquitoes which are responsible for spreading dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
This species of mosquito is found in high density across the state of Kerala. They are known to breed in stagnant freshwater and mostly rest indoors. It is also important to note that they tend to bite during the day. Currently, there are no vaccines, or any specific cure to the disease. It is just treated for, by curing each of the symptoms individually.
The symptoms of the viral infection are much similar to dengue and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. Some people infected by it might not show any signs or symptoms.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3–14 days. The symptoms are typically known to last for 2–7 days. Most people with Zika virus infection do not develop symptoms.
However, in pregnant women the infection can seriously harm the developing foetus and lead to congenital anomalies or even preterm birth and miscarraiges. Zika virus has often been linked to birth defects and development of Guillain-Barre syndrome, where one’s own immune system attacks the nerves.
In the absence of sure-shot and specific treatment for the infection, doctors from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise patients to get plenty of rest. Drinking fluids is also vital to prevent dehydration. They recommend taking medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. It is advised to steer clear of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until the possibility of dengue is completely ruled out.
Since vaccines for the virus remain an active field of research, the only way to prevent the virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Special care should be taken to prevent it among pregnant women, girls of reproductive age and young children, says WHO. Zika virus infection can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Special attention should be given to prevent mosquito bites among pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and young children, says WHO.
The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. It was in 1952 that the first human cases of Zika were detected. It was back into the picture in 2016 when there was an outbreak of sorts in South and Central America and the Caribbean. As per the WHO, during this time, it caused more than half a million suspected cases and more than 3,700 congenital birth defects.
Zika outbreaks have been reported intermittently in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In February 2016, WHO declared that the number of cases of the Zika infection constituted a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
Since then, the cases had been on a steady decline, most experts attributed this to the formation of her immunity. But as such, the virus can be transmitted through its vector, the mosquito, from an infected mother to the foetus, from a nursing mother to the baby, as well as between sexual partners.
After almost 6 years, the Zika virus has made a reappearance, and this time in Kerala. The state has been reporting an increase in its coronavirus cases in the last few days. It is left to see, the impact of the new outbreak on its population with existing 1,10,136 active cases of corona and 31.50% vaccinated population.