Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest of Uganda, hence named after it. It is primarily spread through the bite of the infected Aedes mosquitoes which is also responsible for causing dengue and chikungunya. Common symptoms of Zika are fever, headache, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. There have been reports of some cases where the virus triggered paralysis and in pregnant women, it may cause subsequent birth defects. Mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are most active during the day and so should be careful at this time. Here are some methods that can help you prevent the Zika virus from attacking you.
Prevent mosquito bites: The best way to protect yourself from mosquito bites is by using insect repellent spray or cream, mosquito zapper, wearing clothes that fully cover your legs and arms. Mosquitoes carrying the virus are most active during the day so prevent mosquito bites during the day and early evening to prevent ZIKV. Windows and doors should be fitted with screens/nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering. Use a mosquito net if you are taking a nap or sleeping.
Control mosquitoes indoor/outdoor: To control the breeding of mosquitoes inside your house, you need to make sure to remove standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs such as in flowerpots, water coolers etc. Use insecticides and larvicides to kill mosquitoes in areas where they rest. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid places like under the sink, in closets, under furniture, in the laundry room
Avoid travelling to areas with Zika outbreaks: Try to avoid travelling to areas with Zika outbreaks. You should not travel to such areas especially if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Pregnant women are more at risk because once infected, the Zika virus can be passed on to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects like microcephaly and other severe brain defects of the baby.
Counselling for sexually active partners: Sexually active partners, especially in regions where ZIKV transmission is active should be informed and counselled about the possibility of getting infected. They should be offered a full range of contraceptive methods and information if they want to avoid pregnancy or when they want to become pregnant. Pregnant women should not miss their scheduled appointments with doctors to detect microcephaly and other ZIKV related development in the foetus.
India is currently at a high risk of the Zika virus as there have been reports of outbreaks in cities like Kanpur and Lucknow. Kanpur reports 123 Zika Virus cases so far. Though the government is also doing their part, we should also take initiatives to prevent ZIKV infection. The whole team of Rabitat wishes everyone to be safe during these times and we advise everyone to follow the instructions to prevent the virus from spreading. At the moment, there are no vaccines for this virus so the only protection you have against the virus is self-care.