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What is Zika virus - Symptoms, Mechanism & Prevention

16 July, 2021 Piyush

While the world has been battling a pandemic since almost 2 years, another epidemic caused due to a virus is strictly something not anyone would want to witness at the moment. But unfortunately, Kerala in India has reported the initial cases of Zika virus outbreak in the form of a cluster of patients being found in Thiruvananthapuram. This episode of sudden surge in Zika cases might as well point towards the outbreak of another outbreak of Zika virus epidemic in the region.

While Zika virus is not new to India, there have been cases of Zika virus outbreaks in India in the past too. But certainly, with the corona virus pandemic already on going, Zika virus is surely an unwelcomed guest in the coming and might make things difficult for the already stressed health care system of our country.

About Zika Virus

Zika virus is not something new to the mankind. It was first found in monkeys in Uganda in the year 1947, and the first human infection was reported in 1952. Ever since then, the Zika virus has been making its presence felt in the society by recurring epidemics. Entire of the African continent has faced the wrath of Zika virus, after which the virus travelled to Mexico, Central America, South America and South- East Asia.

The Zika virus infection is caused by the Zika virus, and has symptoms quite similar to Dengue and Chikungunya. As far as the carrier of the virus is concerned, the female aedes mosquito acts as the carrier of the dreaded virus. The virus does not only spread by the action of the mosquito, but Zika virus infection can also be sexually transmitted from another person.

Symptoms of Zika virus infection

The symptoms of Zika virus infection are quite similar to the Dengue and Chikungunya infection and hence is often confused for Dengue or Chikungunya till the medical tests are conducted for Zika virus. Interestingly, most of the patients infected with the Zika virus are asymptomatic, and the ones who show symptoms, do so only after 3-12 days of getting infected by the virus. The symptoms that a patient infected with Zika virus will show are

  • The earliest symptoms of Zika virus include fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea and vomiting.
  • As the disease progresses, the patients start to experience dizziness, constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and lack of appetite.
  • Just before the infection starts receding, it shows symptoms such as pink eye (inflammation of the conjunctiva), skin rashes, sensitivity to light and red spots on the face, neck and upper arms.

Zika virus mechanism

Zika virus enters the body either via the biting action of an infected female aedes mosquito, or after a sexual interaction with an infected person. In either of the cases, once the virus enters your body, it starts showing effects upon you within 3-12 days of the contact.

Once into the body, the Zika virus, like other viruses replicates itself and makes numerous copies of itself for survival. Another distinct feature of the Zika virus is that the virus mimics the host body’s proteins and this triggers the host body’s immune system to attack itself along with destroying the virus.

Prevention

There does not exist many techniques to prevent the onset of the Zika virus disease, except for the prevention of coming in contact with the carrier of the disease, the Aedes mosquito. Let us discuss in brief about the methods to prevent a contact with the mosquito.

  • Use mosquito repellents: Medically certified mosquito repellents should be used to prevent the direct contact of aedes mosquito with your body. Such repellents have been proving effective in preventing the action of mosquitoes on our bodies.
  • Wear full covering clothes: Not leaving any area of exposure for the mosquito to make a contact at is another way to prevent interaction with this mosquito. Wearing full sleeve shirts and full length trousers help in preventing the action of aedes mosquitoes.
  • Prevent breeding of mosquitoes: Don’t let stagnant water accumulate in your surroundings, for they felicitate the breeding action of mosquitoes by laying eggs. Keep a check on any and all items which can hold up water like pots, tires and toys and keep cleaning them regularly to prevent the breeding of the mosquitoes.

Bottom line

With enough of knowledge about the dreaded effects of the Zika virus, and looking at the state of coronavirus pandemic, the best way out to avoid the spread of this Zika virus infection is to follow the steps given in the prevention tab of the blog and keep yourself and your loved ones protected!