Explained: How Zika spreads, and harms

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Zika Virus

Mains level: Tackling Zika Virus menace in India


News

Context

  • In what is India’s first large outbreak of the Zika virus, afresh 100 cases have been detected so far Jaipur itself.
  • A look at how the virus spreads and the big risk it involves — the possibility of babies being born with a defect:

Zika

  1. Zika is a viral infection, spread by mosquitoes.
  2. The vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and Chikungunya.
  3. First identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys, Zika was detected in humans five years later.
  4. Sporadic cases have been reported throughout the world since the 1960s, but the first outbreak happened only in 2007 in the Island of Yap in the Pacific.
  5. In 2015, a major outbreak in Brazil led to the revelation that Zika can be associated with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small and underdeveloped brains.

Transmission of Zika Virus

  1. Infected people can transmit Zika sexually.
  2. Fears around Zika primarily involve microcephaly, especially when pregnant women are infected.
  3. Generally, the virus is not considered dangerous to anyone other than pregnant women.
  4. Some countries that have had a Zika outbreak, including Brazil, reported a steep increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome — a neurological disorder that could lead to paralysis and death, according to WHO.
  5. In 2017, following a study on Brazil’s confirmed cases, the US National Institutes of Health study estimated the fatality rate at 8.3%.

Symptoms

  1. Most people infected with the virus do not develop symptoms.
  2. When they are manifested, the symptoms are similar to those of flu, including fever bodyache, headache etc.
  3. WHO says these symptoms can be treated with common pain and fever medicines, rest and plenty of water.
  4. If the symptoms worsen, people should seek medical advice.
  5. Additional symptoms can include the occasional rash like in dengue, while some patients also have conjunctivitis.
  6. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3-14 days.

Preventive Measures against Zika

  1. Mosquito control measures such as spraying of pesticides, use of repellents etc. are widely suggested.
  2. Because of the possibility of congenital abnormalities and sexual transmission, there is also focus on contraceptives.
  3. WHO requires countries to counsel sexually active men and women on the matter to minimize chances of conception at the time of an outbreak.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.
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