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Zika Virus Surge in Maharashtra: What You Need to Know

Amid rising Zika virus cases in Maharashtra, the Central government has issued an advisory to all states, highlighting the need to maintain “constant vigil” and to focus on pregnant women who test positive for the infection. All states have been directed to closely monitor the fetal growth of pregnant women infected with the Zika virus.

Maharashtra has reported at least seven cases of Zika virus – an Aedes mosquito-borne viral disease like dengue and chikungunya. While it is non-fatal, microcephaly  – a condition where the head is much smaller than expected in babies born to infected women is associated with Zika.

With the Centre issuing an advisory on the Zika virus, let’s explore its symptoms and how to stay safe:

SYMPTOMS OF ZIKA VIRUS:

Most people who have been infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms immediately.

Symptoms, generally mild, start to appear 3-14 days after one contracts the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and they usually last from two to seven days. They include:

  1. Rash
  2. Fever
  3. Conjunctivitis
  4. Muscle and joint pain
  5. Malaise
  6. Headache

COMPLICATIONS DURING ZIKA VIRUS

WHO says: “Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other congenital malformations in the infant, including limb contractures, high muscle tone, eye abnormalities and hearing loss.”

Zika infection in pregnant women can cause complications such as “fetal loss, stillbirth and preterm birth.”

It can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis, particularly in adults and older children.

TRANSMISSION OF ZIKA VIRUS: IS IT COMMUNICABLE?

Zika virus can get transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, sexual contact and organ transplant.

It is primarily transmitted by infected mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. These mosquitoes usually bite during the day and transmit dengue, chikungunya, and urban yellow fever.

IS THERE A VACCINE AVAILABLE FOR ZIKA VIRUS?

No. There is no vaccine available to prevent Zika virus infection.

SHOULD YOU BE WORRIED?

The Centre has issued an advisory to the states, urging them to immediately report any detected case to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the National Centre for Vector-Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

The Zika virus has been spreading in Pune, with two more cases being reported on Monday. The total number of cases of Zika virus now stands at seven.

Since mosquitoes breed in small collections of water, it is important to eliminate these breeding sites, especially around homes, schools, and hospitals. Standing water in flower pots, plants, and containers should also be cleared to prevent mosquito breeding.

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