New Delhi: The National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune has confirmed the infection of Zika virus found in a pregnant woman in Kerala. The state is on alert after 13 samples out of 19 taken from different parts of the state were suspected to be Zika positive, though an official confirmation is yet to arrive.
The first detected patient, a 24-year-old woman from Parassala had symptoms such as fever, headache and rashes on June 28. She was found mildly positive for the RT-PCR test and her samples were sent to the NIV for confirming Zika.
So what is Zika?
- Zika is spread by the bite mosquitoes belonging to the Aedes species. ‘Aedes Aegypti’ is likely to bite people during day time as well as at night.
- Fever, muscle pain, body rashes, headache, joint pain, red eyes, etc are the most common symptoms of Zika viral infection.
- Symptoms can last for several days to a week. However, once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
- Zika virus very rarely causes death. Most people usually don’t get sick enough to be hospitalised.
- Symptoms of Zika are similar to other diseases spread by mosquitoes like dengue and chikungunya. A blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection in a person.
- Zika is diagnosed National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi and Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV).
- There is no known medication for Zika virus.
- Patients should prevent dehydration by taking plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, take medicine to reduce fever and pain and consult doctors at the earliest in case of any medical conditions.
- Precautions can be taken by staying in air-conditioned or screened rooms or using mosquito beds. It is advisable to cover the arms and legs fully.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Blood transfusion and unprotected sex can also result in the transmission of the virus.
- Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly in infants.
- As for conceiving, sick men should wait for three months after the start of symptoms. Men with a travel history to affected areas should wait for three months as well. Women should wait two months after their journey or getting sick before trying to get pregnant.
- Zika virus stays in semen longer than in other body fluids.