The Zika virus is much in the news, and has given rise to a lot of fear. Apart from the illnes itself, it is suspected of causing brain damage in babies if a pregnant woman catches the Zika virus infection. Several hundred children have been born with microcephaly (small head size) in Brazil, and this virus is believed to be the cause. In February, 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a public health emergency.
It is a virus of the flavivirus family, and so is related to other diseases like dengue, west nile fever, and japanese encephalitis. It is believed that most of the people infected do not have an illness at all - they're the sub-clinical cases. Only about a fifth of people infected will have symptoms, and the disease is almost always a mild one. It consists of fever, a rash, conjunctivitis, and pain in the joints. The illness usually lasts a week or less, and only treatment for pain and fever is given.
Rarely, some children have serious manifestations, including bleeding, jaundice, headache, nausea and abdominal pain. Deaths have been rarely reported.
We don't know much about this virus yet. We know it's spread by mosquito bite, and are reasonably sure about it being sexually transmitted, too.
Other possible means of transmission:
The diagnosis can be confirmed by blood tests, which should be ordered for any child with suggestive symptoms after travel to an affected area. Babies of mothers who have traveled to affected areas in the two weeks before giving birth are also at risk, and should be tested if they show any signs of illness.
The disease is usually mild. Supportive treatment includes caring for nutrition and fluid intake, and paracetamol for fever. Ibuprofen and aspirin should not be used. There is no specific anti viral drug for the Zika virus.
Last Revision: February 24, 2016
There is no vaccine available as yet for this infection. There is also no specific curative drug, so avoidance measures are important. If travel to an affected area is essential, take a few precautions.
The spread of Zika virus has been explosive, and is difficult to predict. The area affected by this virus is expanding. For the most current statement on affected areas, please visit this page of the Centers for Disease Control website:
Zika virus affected areas
Dr. Parang Mehta,
Opposite Putli, Sagrampura,
Surat. Tel: +91 9429486624.
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