Zika Virus Cases Surge in India: How Can You Protect Yourself?

Zika is a viral disease that is spread through an infected Aedes mosquito’s bite.

2 min read

The death of a 74-year-old man in Shivamogga district, Karnataka, suspected to have been caused by the Zika virus has once again put the spotlight on the surge in cases of the vector-borne disease in parts of India. Apart from Karnataka, Maharashtra has so far reported 8 cases.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory on 3 July asking all states to remain vigilant. The advisory also asks for pregnant women to be screened and monitored in particular.

Here’s all that you need to know about protecting yourself against Zika virus.

Zika is a viral disease that is spread through an infected Aedes mosquito’s bite. The infection, if severe, can cause microcephaly, congenital Zika syndrome, or can even be fatal for pregnant women. 

Symptoms: People who are infected with the Zika virus might display the following symptoms:

  • Rashes

  • Joint pain

  • Fever

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Headaches

  • Discomfort and nausea

The World Health Organization noted that the Aedes mosquitoes bite in the early morning, afternoons, or evenings, basically during the daytime.

How is it treated? Testing for zika virus is done with RT-PCR tests — the process is similar to COVID testing—using serum, throat swab and urine samples of the suspected patient.

The infection doesn't have a drug or treatment as such, other than just symptomatic care.

Experts recommend keeping the fever under control, drinking plenty of fluids, and resting up.

How to protect yourself against the Zika virus?

  • Wear fully-covered clothes, and use mosquito repellents, especially in the monsoon to winter months, to protect yourselves from mosquito bites.

  • The US CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) also advices against touching blood or body fluids without wearing protective gloves. If you do get some on your clothes, remove and wash them immediately.

  • Use condoms to reduce the chance of catching sexually transmitted Zika along with other STIs.

  • Maintain hand hygiene and wash them with water and soap frequently.

  • If you are pregnant be extra cautious and avoid travelling to areas with Zika outbreaks altogether.

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