Zika Virus: Symptoms, Prevention and effect on Pregnancy
This morning I opened the newspaper and saw splashed across the front page news about this deadly virus called Zika. Boom! It felt. A fresh new day opens with a bad news. The news says Zika hits Brazil big time and Asia is in high alert, India included. Pregnant women especially on high alert!
I felt a connection. I heard of this virus before. As in, it’s not a new name to me. Well, it turns out Zika virus was established in India way back in 1952 when a research was done in Pune National institute of Virology.
This virus is named so because it originates from the monkeys found in the Zika jungles of Uganda. It’s strange that it was found in India too, which means it traveled all the way from the jungles of Africa. Till now there has been little talks about this virus because it was not so wide spread and the disease seemed quiet harmless.
Anyways, not going into details about its origin just yet because through this write-up I want to bring forth a few information that might be useful to you since this virus decided to make a comeback in a real big way.
(Disclaimer: This article is totally based on research from Internet in order to help spread awareness. References are given at the end of this post. You (especially Pregnant Ladies) must contact medical adviser for any related queries.)
To begin with, India is clear for the moment, but cross border travel is so much that screening becomes a critical criterion in its prevention especially when we are talking about 1.2 billion population spread.
But Why The Focus on Pregnant Women
Even though the disease itself is not a killer disease, it is found that pregnant women infected with Zika virus often gives birth to babies with Microcephaly, a damaged condition of the brain that causes deformity ranging from both physical to mental. Babies are born with shrunken head, and incomplete brain development.
Some babies continue to live a healthy life with some physical deformity. For some babies the damage in the brain causes some organs to malfunction but they too do manage to live a normal life. But sometimes the damage can be life threatening and does not allow vital organs to function. An epidemic size breakout of this virus means that too many babies across the world and especially the Zika prone areas will have deformed babies.
So What Do We Do?
1. Delay pregnancy if you are planning one. Wait till there is some kind of verification news or go ahead from WHO.
2. If you are already pregnant make sure you are not travelling to any Zika infested area. The idea is to be safe than sorry.
3. If you are live in a Zika infected area, restrict socializing. The lesser infected people you meet, the lesser chance of getting infected.
4. Talk to your doctor for any precautionary measures to be taken in order to prevent this disease. As per WHO, there is still no treatment or vaccination officially announced for this virus. Research and experiments have started on a war footing post the recent development in Brazil. But till then it’s safe to say that pregnant women should avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes, because that seems to be the only solution now. There isn’t any other.
5. Use mosquito repellents on your skin and in the house. The only way this virus infects is through mosquito bites. So try to kill all mosquitoes around you!
6. Learn how, when and where do these mosquitoes breed. Cut down on their breeding grounds.
7. New research reveals that Zika virus spreads through sexual contact as well. So take necessary precautions.
8. Then there are tests available to detect the presence of this virus in the blood. Get tested. But only if you think you might be infected or if your doctor suggests.
9. Do not panic, even if this write-up and all other innuendo of news reports are rubbing you the wrong way.
Like I always say, to be informed is a great idea, but to not be able to chaff out the unnecessary from what is necessary for you might spell disaster!
Talk about the Symptoms
So here it is ladies. If you seem to have two or more of any such symptoms listed below, talk to your doctor —
1. Low fever. Headache.
2. Red eye and body rash.
3. May be accompanied with abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
The symptoms are very mild and nothing so radical, so before hitting the panic button, just have a word with your doc.
To add as a footnote, to a rather depressing but necessary article, awareness is the only cure and prevention, till the world of medicinal science comes up with an elixir. Now in a recent update as of 3rd Feb 2016, there is news about a Zika vaccination that is being made in the labs of India. The whole world is watching. It is yet to be tested and verified. This heads-up is especially for pregnant women who needs to keep an eye on further update about this vaccination. So till than be aware and you will be safe.