HOME       Contact Us      Hire Us       Domestic Airlines        Railway Enquiry     Railway Booking     Hotels Abroad

Travellers cautioned as Zika fever creates global scare
New Delhi, January 31, 2016

Zika virus disease is spreading in several countries. Caused by coronavirus, it is transmitted by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. The infection causes mild fever, skin rash (exanthema), joint pain and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2 to 7 days. Microcephaly, or babies being born with small heads, is also reported to be a consequence of the infection, apart from neurological disorders. There is no specific treatment or vaccine.

(ALSO SEE: WHO on Monday declared the Zika viral epidemic and its associated birth defects a global public health emergency.)

The disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. Patients should be given plenty of rest, enough fluids and treatment for pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, one must take medical advice. Zika virus is diagnosed through PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

The only prevention is protection against mosquito bites. Use insect repellents, wear clothes covering as much of the body as possible, use screens etc, close doors and windows, use mosquito nets. Clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or old tyres lest the mosquitoes get a chance to breed.

The only way to fight Zika is to clear stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, and to protect against mosquito bites. Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever viruses and other diseases, spreads the Zika virus. It is identified by white markings on its legs. Originated in Africa, it is today found in most regions. Only the female bites as it needs blood to grow its eggs.

The US has issued travel advisories warning pregnant women against travelling to several countries in the region as it is reported to cause deformities in newborns. The infection may be a causative factor for microcephaly, or babies being born with small heads, but not confirmed. There are also neurological and auto-immune complications associated with the infection.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against travel to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde and Samoa.

Recently, after a reported outbreak of the epidemic in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica had advised its women citizens to avoid pregnancies in view of the gravity of the uncertain situation created by the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Brazil reported the number of babies born with suspected microcephaly has reached 4,000 since October. The Zika virus is said to cause microcephaly which has the symptom of abnormally small heads in newborns. In Brazil 49 babies with suspected microcephaly have died. Zika virus was confirmed in some of these.

The virus was first discovered in Africa in the 1940s. It is currently spreading in Latin America. Mocrobiologist Dr Ali Mohamed Zaki, an Egyptian, first isolated the virus while working in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

- RM Nair

Custom Search

comments powered by Disqus

Home    Contact Us
 Free contributions of articles and reports may be sent to indiatraveltimes@yahoo.com