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A New Epidemic? 10 Zika Virus Positive Cases Reported in Kerala- Here's All You Need to Know About Mosquito-borne Disease

Representative photo.

Representative photo.

The tropical areas provide perfect temperature for the breeding of mosquitoes. To avoid this, one should choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.

As many as 10 Zika virus-positive cases have been reported in Kerala and one of them is a 24-year-old pregnant woman. There are 13 other suspected cases of the virus from Thiruvananthapuram and adding the government was awaiting confirmation from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune.

The woman, hailing from Parassalain Thiruvananthapuram district, who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital here, delivered her baby on July 7. She had been admitted to the hospital on June 28 with fever, headache and red marks on her body. The tests conducted at the hospital confirmed that she was positive following which her samples were sent to NIV, Pune. The condition of the woman was satisfactory.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is transmitted mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, mainly Aedes aegypti. The infection is mostly found in the tropical and subtropical regions. The Aedes mosquito is known to usually bite during the day, especially during early morning and evening. Dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all spread by the same mosquito.

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Symptoms of Zika Virus:

The symptoms of Zika are similar to dengue including fever, skin rashes and joint pain. In the vast majority of cases, there are no symptoms. Zika can cause paralysis (Guillain-Barré Syndrome) in some people. It has the potential to cause birth abnormalities in pregnant women.

How Does Zika Virus Spread?

The Zika virus can also be passed from mother to foetus during pregnancy, via sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation, says WHO. Brazil reported a connection between Zika virus infection and microcephaly in October 2015. Outbreaks and indications of transmission quickly spread over the Americas, Africa, and other parts of the globe. To present, 86 nations and territories have reported evidence of Zika virus spread by mosquitos.

No Vaccine Available:

There is currently no vaccine available to prevent or treat Zika virus infection. The development of a Zika vaccine is still a work in progress.

How to Prevent the Spread of Zika Virus?

The only way to control the spread of the virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Firstly, use an effective mosquito repellent. It is advised to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, which has one of the active ingredients, including DEET, Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US), IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD) and 2-undecanone.

Another preventive measure includes wearing proper cloths and gear. For this, one can use permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes and the permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings. However, permethrin products should not be used directly on skin.

In addition, one should take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors. For this, one has to use screens on windows and doors. The holes in screens should also be repaired when needed to keep mosquitoes outdoors. It is also advisable to use air conditioning, if available.

One must also stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water. For this, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers, at least once a week.

The most important step is to prevent mosquito bites when traveling overseas. The tropical areas provide perfect temperature for the breeding of mosquitoes. To avoid this, one should choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors. Even there, one should sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside or in a room that does not have screens.

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first published:July 08, 2021, 21:24 IST