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White Paper on Zika Virus

What is Zika?

 Zika is a type of virus. Infection with this virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.

How does it spread?

The virus spreads mainly through mosquito bites. But can also spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby, and through sex.

Which is the mosquito?

It’s the same aedes mosquito which also spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever?

Is it dangerous?

If the infection is acquired during pregnancy it can cause damage to the brain of the foetus. If one is not pregnant or not planning to get pregnant it is likely to be harmless.

Where is Zika found?

Zika has occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Since May of 2015, there has been an outbreak happening in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The virus has also been found in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Is it present in India?

No cases have yet been reported.

Will it enter India?

It may never enter India alike yellow fever though the mosquito is same. Or it may enter and behave like Chikungunya with limited cases or it may enter like dengue and cause an epidemic. Remember Ebola never entered India.

Do we need to panic about the disease?

No. Let the government and the WHO work on it. We should concentrate on dengue, TB and other diseases prevalent in India.

What are the symptoms?

Most (80%) people infected with Zika have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms.

If there are symptoms, they usually happen 2 to 12 days after being bitten by a mosquito that has the virus.

Symptoms might include:

● Fever

● Rash

● Pain in the joints, especially in the hands and feet

● Red eyes

● Headache

In some areas where there is Zika virus, there have also been more cases of a disease Guillain-Barré syndrome, which presents with muscle weakness.

Should I travel if I am pregnant?

If you get infected with Zika while you are pregnant, you could pass the infection on to the baby. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant avoid traveling to countries where there is Zika virus.

What if I cannot avoid the travel?

Try to avoid mosquito bites.

What is microcephaly?

During Zika outbreak in Brazil, there have been many reports of babies being born with a head that is smaller than normal, and in some cases miscarriage. The babies who are affected often have problems with their development.

Is there a test for Zika?


How is Zika treated?

There is no specific treatment for Zika. Treatment involves rest, drink plenty of fluids and paracetamol.

Can I take aspirin?

Do not take aspirin or NSAIDs. They can cause bleeding in people who have a disease that is similar to Zika, called "dengue fever."  Never give aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin to children younger than 18 years. In children, aspirin can cause a serious problem called Reye syndrome.

Can Zika be prevented?

·          Stay inside when the mosquitoes that carry Zika are most active.

·         They bite during the daytime, in the very early morning, and in the few hours before sunset.

·         Buildings with screens and air conditioning are safest.

·         Wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when you go outside.

·         Wear bug spray or cream that contains DEET or a chemical called picaridin. Check the label to make sure.

·         Do not use DEET on babies younger than 2 months.

·         On your clothes and gear, use bug repellants that have a chemical called permethrin.

·         Drain any standing water if possible, such as wading pools and buckets. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.

·         It's also important to try to avoid mosquito bites if you have already gotten Zika. That's because during the first week of having it, the virus can be found in your blood. If a mosquito bites you, and then bites another person, that person could then get Zika too.

Do I need extra precautions for Zika?

No, take the same precautions that are taken to prevent dengue fever.

What are other ways to get Zika?

● Sex – There have been a few reports of people getting Zika through sex. If you have been to a country where there is Zika virus, it's a good idea to use a condom for at least a few weeks afterwards. This is especially important for men whose sex partner is a woman who could get pregnant. For men whose partner is already pregnant, it's important to use a condom for sex for the rest of the partner's pregnancy. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

● Blood transfusion –  If you have been to a country where there is Zika virus, you should not donate blood for at least 4 weeks afterwards.

Is there a vaccine against Zika?

There is no vaccine for Zika virus infection.

(Source WHO, CDC, Uptodate)