Oh, Virus! Yes, That terrifying reaction.
Isn’t Prevention better than cure? We use antivirus to protect our phones and computers from viruses, so let’s use prevention for us!
The virus is an infective agent, consisting of nucleic acid as genetic material and a protein coat. The virus requires a living host to multiply. It can enter the living cells by various means, such as by contact or can be spread by vectors like mosquitoes.
Zika, a virus is spread primarily by mosquitoes that cause mild symptoms like fever, rashes and aches in healthy adults. However, it can cause serious birth defects when a pregnant mother is being infected.
Zika Virus is a member of the “Flaviviridae” family, which was first isolated from Pyrexial Rhesus Monkey in Zika Forest of Uganda in April 1947. In January 1948, this virus was also isolated from Aedes africans, a species of mosquitoes, in Zika forest. Zika is a non-segmented, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA Virus. The virus infects human with the help of aedes mosquito being it’s carrier, which is most active these days. These are same mosquitoes which spread diseases like dengue and chikungunya. But they cannot survive at an altitude above 6500 feet because it cannot sustain high altitude environmental conditions.
Zika virus, that came from the Uganda forests is terrorizing the whole world. So far, more than 80 countries have been affected by the Zika virus and no proper treatment has yet been established.
The first outbreak of the disease in humans was seen in the people of Uganda and Tanzania in 1952. West Africa and many countries of Asia including India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan are affected by this virus.
The symptoms of this virus are easily ignored by most of the common people because of its symptoms, such as fever, headache, rashes, joint pain, muscle cramps etc. which are mostly similar to the symptoms of other diseases like common cold.
The result of the ignorance made to the people of Yap island of Federated States of Micronesia in 2007 to suffer. According to a study, 73% of the yap island’s population, whose age was more than three years was found to be infected by the virus. This was the largest outbreak ever. Before this only 16 cases were registered where zika spread infection. This incident shook the entire world. On the other hand, this disease can also be transmitted sexually. The first case of sexual transmission was recorded in the USA in 2008.
Between 2010 and 2015, this virus also caught many countries of South-East Asia in its grip. Australians, Canadians, German and Finnish travellers were also found to be infected with this infection. The scientists did not understand what to do, how to prevent this virus infection. The number of affected people by the virus began to increase.
World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) took steps to combat this infection. They declared back to back three epidemiologic alerts in 2015. After these alerts, people got aware and took preventive measures. Now, almost every health organization have guidelines for taking preventive measures to protect against the virus.
This growing outbreak of Zika has put human life in the shadows and no proper treatment of this viral infection has ever treated human life.
India is one of more than 80 countries where the Zika virus is present, although the first confirmed cases were reported in 2017. The initial two exposure of the virus was found to be in the western state of Gujarat and the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The current outbreak infected more than 130 people in the city of Jaipur in the month of October 2018. Considerably larger, scientists found mosquitoes that were infected with the virus, indicating that it was being transmitted locally.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika and no medicine to treat it. The best protection is through preventing mosquito bites and avoiding regions with the virus.
So, stay aware, take preventive measures and protect yourself and your family.
Article by Kartikay Shukla
Edited by Moumita Mazumdar
He is a PhD scholar in Science and Technology Communication in National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (erstwhile CSIR-NISCAIR) one of the prestigious labs of CSIR in India. He is trained in popularizing science through writing, graphic designing and outreach programs. Currently, he is associated with an NGO name Search for Truth and Return to Science as a volunteer. He did his Master of Science in Science and Technology Communication from CSIR- National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi and he completed his Bachelor of Science in Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics from Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar Uttarakhand.