Zika Virus – Everything One Should Know About

Author : Dr. Swati Rajagopal 

Consultant - Infectious Disease & Travel Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital


Zika is a vector-borne disease.  A recent study by WHO has shown that vectors transmit 17% of estimated global communicable diseases and almost 12 major vector-borne diseases across the globe like Zika virus fever, dengue, chikungunya fever, Japanese encephalitis, dengue, is the leading cause of more than 700 000 deaths annually.  This has been mainly caused due to the rapidly changing global climates over the last century, which have significantly contributed to the rapid spread of infectious and vector-borne diseases across the globe. 

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause a variety of health problems, including birth defects, neurological disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Pregnant women are at high risk of getting infected and infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.

Zika virus does not develop symptoms, however, those who do develop last for 2-7 days. These symptoms include:

•             Fever

•             Rash

•             Headache

•             Joint pain

•             Red eyes

•             Muscle pain

In special cases, Zika virus may cause more serious complications, such as:

•Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis

•Microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby's head is smaller than expected

• Other severe fetal brain defects

Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika virus infection, thus it is highly critical to take all the prevention to avoid the infection.  One should avoid mosquito bites and take the below-mentioned precautions:

•Never let water stagnate anywhere in and around your home, keep a check regularly, especially in the rainy season, and clear out accumulated water in buckets, coolers, or other containers where mosquitoes can breed.

•Personal protection measures, such as repellents and protective clothing, are effective against all of them. It is recommended to use a suitable mosquito repellent for children and expectant mothers mostly when they are stepping out.

•Improve water storage and sanitization so that the disease is controlled at the community level. (The author has his own study and views)