Zika virus is an emerging viral infectionfrom the west which is known to be transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes mosquito. The same mosquito is known to transmit other deadly viral infections, such as, Chikangunya and Dengue viral fevers. Fresh cases of the virus has been reported in parts of US and in some European countries. World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency, while the Indian Health Ministry has issued the guidelines on Zika virus in India lately. For details regarding various viral infections and their transmissions, please refer to my previous post.
Zika Virus: History
Zika virus had previously attacked India as early as in the 1950s. According to a study conducted in National Institute of Virology in Pune, this virus attacked the Indian sub-continent, but causing little or no harm. This virus is related to other well known viral infections, like, Dengue, West Nile Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, and Yellow Fever, and may be considered as a milder form of Dengue fever, but with a high incidence of mother-to–fetal transmission rates. The transmission of the this virus was solely expected to be through the bite of infected Aedes egypti mosquito, but, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC has confirmed a Zika virus case in Texas known to be acquired through sexual transmission.
Zika Virus: Today
The World Health Organization has reported over 20 territories in Americas that have been infected with this virus. The worst part about this virus is that, it is known to cause birth defects in pregnant women causing the delivered babies to have a smaller sized head or Microcephaly, as compared to the normal population. This viral infection causes other serious neurological complications like Gullian Bare Syndrome. This syndrome has a complex presentation of polyneuropathy, leading to paralysis of the limbs of the infected person. On this scenario, the Ministry of Health in India explains lately, “The NCDC, Delhi and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, would be the apex laboratories to support the outbreak investigation and for confirmation of laboratory diagnosis. Ten additional laboratories would be strengthened by ICMR to expand the scope of laboratory diagnosis.” The symptoms of Zika virus infection are quite similar to the simple viral infections, which includes, mild to moderate fever, body aches, rash and joint pains.
Zika Virus: Conclusion
The Ministry of Health in India has issued the guidelines for Zika virus infection stating, “Based on the available information of previous outbreaks, severe forms of disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and fatalities are rare. There is no vaccine or drug available to prevent/ treat Zika virus disease at present”. The WHO is concerned about lack of vaccines and non-availability of rapid and reliable diagnostic tests in majority of the territories and countries. What concerns the most is that the non-immune population to this viral infection specially the pregnant mothers, as the infection is currently incurable. While the Health authorities are striving hard to combat the virus, let’s pray that the Zika virus may not become a new threat to the mankind!