Zika – UPSC Prelims

  • Zika virus Disease is mosquito-borne virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which also transmit three other vector-borne diseases Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.
  • The virus belongs to family Flaviviridae and Genus Flavivirus.
  • It was first identified in 1947 in Zika Forest, Uganda from where it derives its name.
  • Now it is emerging disease currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide.
  • Transmission:
    • Through mosquito bites: Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus).
    • From mother to child: A pregnant woman can pass the Zika virus to her foetus during pregnancy. Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fatal brain defects.
    • Sexual Transmission: Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her partners. Zika can be passed through sex, even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time.
  • Symptoms: They are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
  • Threats: 
    • Pregnant women infected with Zika virus may give birth to babies with severe brain damage or serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads.
    • Besides there is also possible link between virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected.
  • Treatment and Prevention:
    • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika.
    • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

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