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Friday, April 14, 2017

Zika Virus

Contrary to the popular belief, Zika virus is not new. In the year 1947 it was discovered in the rhesus monkeys in the African country of Uganda. The virus got its name Zika after the forest of that country. After some years(1952), it was found in humans. But, after that it remained silent, by and large. The first instance of this outbreak was in the year 2007. However, the first evidence of viral transmission from mother to fetus came out in the year 2014. But, the significance of this disease was not well taken care of at that time.

The Zika virus causes troubled viral infection. This virus gets transmitted through the bite from tropical mosquito that belongs to the genusAedes. Though the symptoms of this disease are usually mild, but they are very unpleasant. It is important here to know that it is not the same Aedes that causes malaria.It is the genus that is responsible for yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus disease. If the findings of the research conducted recently are to be believed, this virus will reach US and get transmitted by bites from the local mosquitoes. The virus is linked to even more devastating disorders, like microcephaly(abnormally small brain and head size of the babies born) and Guillain-Barre’ syndrome.

The symptoms of this disease include red and inflammed eyes(conjunctivitis), muscle and joint pain, fever, rash and headache, fatigue, etc. These symptoms may last for 2-3 days to about a week. But, symptoms are not common to all persons affected with this disease.Only 20% affected persons show the signs of symptoms. Though generally people recover from the infection without help, but it may make the life of an affected person miserable and interfere with his or her life without help.
Though the researches are in the full swing to create a vaccine for the Zika virus, but as of now there is no any vaccine available. The best remedy available against this virus today is to avoid mosquito bites and maintain goodhealth care. The health authorities in Canada and United States are currently suggesting the pregnant women not to travel to the countries where the Zika virus is spread. The countries where mosquitoes carry the Zika virus recommend their women not to get pregnant till 2018. Some recommended precautions to prevent mosquito bites are listed below:
Wear insect repellent, especially during the day and early evening
Cover the body as much as possible. In order to avoid overheating, wear the light-coloured clothing
Treat clothing with insecticide
Use air conditioner and keep your windows closed
Sleep in a mosquito net

America’s Initiative to Combat the Virus
On 9th of February, 2016, President Obama asked Congress for $1.8 billion contingency fund to contain this virus. The amount will be spent on various mosquito control programs, improvement of health for the low-income pregnant women, vaccine research and awareness for this disease. The spending proposal of Obama does include $355 million as foreign aid to South America, the Caribbean and Central America where this virus is spreading exponentially.
                                                                      ----Ashish Jha

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