Hot and humid the first day and rainy the next creates the right environment for breeding mosquitoes which transmit Zika virus.In developing economies like India and Texas in the US weather conditions make these countries the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The same Aedes mosquito is also responsible for transmitting Dengue and Chikungunya; thus it is scarcely surprising that the incidence of this intimidating virus is fast taking on alarming proportions the world over.
Those with a penchant for facts would indeed find it interesting that the Zika virus is not new to mankind and was first identified in Uganda way back in the year 1947. However it continued to be limited to Africa for decades.
It was only as recent as 2007 when it first spread to the South Pacific. On the contrary although Indians have been harboring a relatively older and quieter strain of Zika virus since the 50s it was relatively harmless.The more virulent and dangerous strain has made an entry into India in 2016.
Symptoms at a Glance
Statistics indicate that only one out of every four affected individuals develop symptoms. What is even more encouraging is the fact that more often than not symptom subside spontaneously.Nevertheless considering the gravity of the disease condition it is important that we understand the symptoms better so as to reach an early diagnosis.
- The medical fraternity is of the opinion that Zika infection typically begins with a headache followed by a body rash in ninety per cent of the affected individuals.
- Redness of eyes is yet another accompaniment in addition to constitutional symptoms such as low grade fever.
- Concurrently those with the condition may experience ankle, knee and wrist joint pains.
Zika and Pregnancy
Medical literature has now concluded that disease due to Zika virus is extremely mild and seldom leads to death or disability.
On the contrary when pregnant women contract this infection it can lead to severe birth defects,Thus it is not surprising that taking precautions during pregnancy is a ‘given’.
- hearing loss
- neurological defects in the baby.
Microcephaly is best defined as a condition wherein the head of the baby is smaller than expected. When you compare the size of the head of the baby with other babies of the same sex and age you will find it to be significantly smaller.
In normal circumstances as the baby develops in the uterus of the mother, the brain grows and the size of the head increases.
However in Zika virus infection, the brain develops slowly or even stops developing leading to smaller head size. This defect is permanent in nature and cannot be reversed.
Research in recent times has now concluded that babies affected by Zika virus in the pregnancy stage of the mother usually have a hearing loss.
This is due to the damage to the nerve which connects the ear to the brain. In other instances this could be attributed to the fact that the inner ear is damaged.
When the body defence system called Immune System begins to attack its own nerves the condition is known as Guillain – Barre Syndrome.
The good news is that the condition is not severe as it settled down on its own.
Preventing Zika during Pregnancy
Some of the most effective ways of protecting against Zika during pregnancy may well include the likes of:
# 1 Mosquito Repellents
Ensure that you apply mosquito repellents before going outdoors. Contrary to popular belief, mosquito repellents are not harmful. Nevertheless do not overdo it and make sure that you apply mosquito repellents in small quantities if you are pregnant.
# 2 Cover Well
Sun down means sleeves down, and it could not get any simpler than that!
All that you need to do is to ensure that you keep yourself well covered so as to avoid mosquito bites. One of the most effective ways is to treat your clothes with Promethrin.
However a word of caution being that while you can treat your clothes with Promethrin for better results, skin should be protected against mosquito bites.
# 3 Limited Mobility
Dawn and sunset are the most active parts of the day and it is during these times that the movement of the mosquitoes is the highest. Thus it is advocated that during these times of the day, make sure that you do not move out of the house.
# 4 Screening Options
One of the more effective options is to stay indoors in an air conditioned environment so as to prevent exposure to mosquitoes.
# 5 Safe Sex
Zika virus is also transmitted through sex thus it is not surprising that the preferred option is to avoid having sex or have safe sex by using condoms if your partner has just returned from and area which is infected with this incriminating virus.
Those with a scientific temper would find it interesting that males would need to abstain from having unprotected sex for six months.
# 6 Travel Safe
Finally, if you are pregnant then ensure that you do not travel to areas where Zika virus is spread by the bit of the Aedes Mosquito.
Thus it could well be concluded that Zika virus infection is fast taking on epidemic proportions and those who are pregnant are well advised to take the right decision and prevent getting affected by this apparently innocuous Zika virus per se.