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16 Jul 2020, Edition - 1829, Thursday

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Coimbatore

Zika virus: Better safe than sorry

Indrani Thakurata

The recent report of Zika virus in Ahmedabad is bad news for us. But Health ministry officials maintain two things ever since WHO has confirmed these three cases in Ahmedabad; that the said three patients (2 pregnant mothers and a 64-year-old senior citizen) have recovered and all the other states are following the guidelines and the action plan shared by the centre.

What is Zika virus?

The virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. “Pregnant women are the worst hit, Zika can can cause birth defects such as microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in babies in the womb. It can also be a reason for rare neurological disorders. And like many other viruses, this has no vaccine or treatment,” says Dr Mukut Bhowmik, Saathii.


What are the signs?

MIld fever,skin rash, conjunctivitis , muscle and joint pain,malaise or headache and body ache are some of the signs, but you may not be showing any for a week, and yet be affected.

How safe are we in the south of India?

“One can’t really talk about whether this virus will travel down south, but yes, we can be affected just as whole of India can be. Ofcourse the weather down south is conducive for the breeding of the virus. And therefore to prevent this, simple measures should be taken by the State government like educating people about the virus and how it breeds,” says Dr Bhowmick. He adds, “ Our population, poverty, lack of sanitation and hygiene across the country makes India vulnerable.”

Explaining the the measures in a little more detail, Dr Sae Praneeth of Health Roots Clinic says, “ The Zika virus breeds in fresh water, so it is essential to not let water collect in planters, containers etc. Precautionary measures like using of mosquito repellants is necessary. Cover yourself during the day time, because this is a day-biting mosquito.” Almost like a re affirming statement, Dr Satish Kumar , Country Director of Saathii says, “ We don’t need to panic. But take the necessary precautions,and be aware of the situation.”

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