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Zika Virus alert: Things you should know

By Dr. Anita Mathew,  Infectious Disease Specialist, Fortis Hospital Mulund

Amid the growing threat of the third wave of COVID19, Maharashtra discovered its first Zika virus case, raising a caution on the kind of precaution needed to be taken in the coming days. Although the state health department has decided to conduct a door-to-door survey in the district in which the case was found, it seeks help from community, to help be vigilant and contain the spread of the Zika virus. The state health department also reports that cases of Chikungunya and Dengue are also on the rise.

SO HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ZIKA: The vector through which Zika gets transmitted is like that of Dengue and Chikungunya. Its symptoms are also similar to Dengue and Chikungunya. In majority of cases the disease is self limiting. Therefore, the only treatment required is symptomatic. Zika can cause complication in pregnant women. The infection can cause Microcephaly (a brain disability) or other conditions called Congenital Zika Syndrome.

The virus easily transmits from a pregnant woman to her fetus. It can also spread through sexual contact, transfusion of blood & blood products, and organ transplantation. Now, it is important that people identify Zika symptoms from other vector-borne diseases and COVID19.

SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR:

  • Mild to high fever
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Skin Rashes/Allergies
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sometimes atypical weakness of upper and lower limbs

HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO FOLLOW TO STAY AWAY FROM DISEASE: It is important to note that there is no cause to worry if you take the necessary precautions. However, if you observe any changes in your body, especially the symptoms mentioned above, immediately consult your doctor. Don’t forget that any delay can cause undesired complications. Also, do not indulge in self-medication. Take these precautionary measures to stay protected and safe.

DOS AND DON’TS: People detected with the virus are requested to stay indoors, take as much rest as possible & drink plenty of fluids. Pregnant women should refrain from traveling, mainly to infected areas. No specific treatment is required, normally it is a self-limiting condition.

Since there is no treatment or vaccine available, reducing the risk of being bitten by a mosquito is the only option. Since the mosquito bites mostly during the daytime, making sure living areas are clean and no stagnant water is seen, emptying pots and buckets is important, as mosquitoes lay their eggs in such water.

  • Wear full-sleeved clothes
  • Ensure doors and windows are closed
  • Apply mosquito/ insect repellents
  • Drink only boiled water
  • Consume fresh homemade food
  • Avoid using Aspirin to treat fever
  • Visit your doctor if symptoms persist
  • Make sure your home is well ventilated
  • Avoid touching your nose and mouth with your hand, especially if your hands are not washed
  • Avoid visiting crowded places to reduce your risk of viral infections

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