Zika Virus Disease
Monica Madavariya
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Zika Virus Disease - Patient Education
Q. What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito of the species Aedes.

Q.What are the symptoms of Zika?
Not all people who are infected with the virus get sick. Only about 20% of those infected with Zika will get sick and the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Q. How is Zika spread?
Zika is mostly spread through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also spread from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Q.Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.

Q.Where has Zika virus been found?
Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.
including; Brazil, Barbados, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Equador, El Salvador, French Guyana. Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St Martin, Suriname, Virgin Island and Venezuela. It may be noted that this list is likely to change with time. Hence, updated information should be checked periodically.

Q.What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?
As there is no vaccine as yet to prevent Zika, the best way to prevent its spread is by avoiding mosquito bites. These measures should specially be taken when travelling to countries having zika virus spread, like the South Americas. In order to protect oneself from mosquitoes, one should:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Use window and door screens to keep mosque
• Use approved insect repellents, always following the product label instructions.

Q.What is the treatment for Zika?
There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.
Treatment consists of:
• Plenty of rest.
• Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
• Medicines such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
• Avoiding aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
• Protecting others: To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.

Q. How is Zika diagnosed?
• See your doctor if you or your child develop symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes), especially after recent international travel.
• Blood tests to look for Zika are not yet available in India for widespread use, but tests for other similarly presenting viral illnesses like Dengue and Chikungunya can be conducted.

Q.Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?
No. There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika.
Are you immune for life once infected?
Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Q.Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. As this is a new emerging infection, knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is still evolving and more needs to be known. But, until then, special precautions are recommended for the following groups:
• Pregnant women (in any trimester):
o Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
o If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
• Women who are trying to become pregnant

Q.Does Zika virus infection cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)?
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder where a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes, paralysis. These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. While most people fully recover from GBS, some people have permanent damage and in rare cases, people have died.
Since the Brazil Ministry of Health is reporting an increased number of people affected with GBS, along with a high number of cases of Zika virus disease, a link between the two is possible. But it is difficult to determine if Zika virus “caused” GBS or this is just a coincidence. US health authorities are working to determine if Zika and GBS are related.

Q.Is this a new virus?
No, but it is an emerging infection as it is rapidly spreading across countries. Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.

Q.How many Zika virus cases have been diagnosed in the India? Should we be concerned about Zika in India?
The WHO held an emergency meeting in Geneva on 2nd Feb, 2016 to discuss the global situation of Zika virus transmission and the threats it poses. Till date, there have been no reported cases in India. But the Indian population is highly vulnerable to Zika virus, as there is no immunity to the virus in the population, and there are abundant Aedes mosquitoes in the Indian subcontinent. Travellers from India to South American, South east Asian, or African countries can potentially introduce the virus in India upon their return. Hence, eminent doctors across India have expressed concerns regarding this threat. All health care providers are now encouraged to report suspected cases to their state or local health departments to facilitate diagnosis and mitigate the risk of local transmission.
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Q.What is the Health Ministry doing about Zika?
The Health ministry has been aware of Zika for some time. After attending the WHO emergency meet on Zika virus on Feb 1, 2016, the Health ministry has issued guidelines on preventing the spread of Zika virus, along with a travel advisory. Also, several laboratories in India will be trained to test for Zika virus.

Q.What precautions are advisable for international travellers to prevent Zika virus?
According to the recently released travel advisory by Ministry of Health, the following precautions are advisable:
• Non-essential travel to the affected countries to be deferred/ cancelled.
• Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/ cancel their travel to the affected areas.
• All travellers to the affected countries/ areas should strictly follow individual protective measures, especially during day time, to prevent mosquito bites (use of mosquito repellant cream, electronic mosquito repellants, use of bed nets, and dress that appropriately covers most of the body parts).
• Persons with other health conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, Immune disorders etc) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country.
• Travellers having fever within two weeks of return from an affected country should report to the nearest health facility.
• Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel to their doctors during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately


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