How Zika spreads, and harms?

Context

  • India is witnessing its largest outbreak of the the Zika virus with 29 case confirmed by the Rajasthan health department and 80 more cases have been detected in the state.

 

Zika virus: A Backgounder

About Zika virus

  • Zika is a viral infection spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito, which belongs to a group of viruses called the flaviviruses (which includes dengue, West Nile and yellow fever).
  • Zika virus infect and replicate inside the cells of several species, including humans, monkeys, and mosquitoes.

History of Zika

  • Zika was first isolated from a monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947.
  • The first human case was reported in 1954.
  • In 2007, the first documented outbreak of Zika took place, on Yap Island in Micronesia.
  • In 2013 and 2014, another Zika outbreak occurred, in French Polynesia and the surrounding islands.
  • Brazil reported a major outbreak of the disease in 2015 where more than 4000 cases were detected.
  • Currently there is no vaccine to prevent infection.

 

 

Transmission

  • The primary mode of Zika transmission is through mosquitoes in the genus Aedes which bite during the day.
  • When a mosquito sucks blood from a person infected with Zika, the virus can infect the cells of the mosquito.
  • Mosquito’s infection develops in a period of about 1 and ½ weeks.
  • When it bites another human, the viral particles can be transmitted to the human, who may contract Zika.
  • Other modes of transmission include
  • Pregnant woman who contracts Zika transmitting the virus to her growing fetus.
  • Sexual contact or through blood transfusions from a Zika-infected donor.

 

 

Symptoms

  • Typical symptoms may include rash, fever, conjunctivitis (irritation of the eyes), and joint pain.
  • Pregnant women and their unborn fetuses are at higher risk for harmful effects from Zika.
  • There is a link between Zika infection during pregnancy and a condition called microcephaly in newborns.
  • Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.
  • Microcephaly may involve neurological problems or developmental delays.
  • In some rare cases, it may be linked with Guillain-Barré syndrome.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune condition that causes paralysis, which is usually temporary.
  • According to a study conducted in 2017, the fatality rate of the disease is about 8%.

 

Zika in India

  • In India, the Zika virus was first found in Pune 65 years ago.
  • In 2017 three cases infected with mosquito-borne Zika virus were detected in Ahmedabad.
  • The 4th case was reported from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu in 2017.
  • Till now India has not witnessed a major outbreak.
  • However given the fertile climate for the aedes egypti mosquito to grow and multiply, there is the potential of an outbreak situation in the country.
  • Currently India is witnessing its largest outbreak of Zika in Rajasthan with 80 cases reported in Jaipur since last month.

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