VARANASI: After the detection of first cases of Zika virus in Gujarat, the health department in Varanasi has issued an alert suggesting dos and don’ts for preventing and controlling mosquito breeding.
Chief medical officer Dr. VB Singh issued the alert for general public on Wednesday. He said that Zika virus spreads by Aedes mosquitoes, which are also the vector of dengue virus, and chikungunya virus. These mosquitoes usually breed in stable water collected within buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots etc. “Though no case of Zika virus is detected in this region, people should take precautionary measures to prevent mosquito bite,” said the CMO adding that there is no need of panic, just follow some dos and don’t’s.
The molecular virologist at the Molecular Bilogy unit of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Dr. Sunit Singh said that there are currently no vaccines to stop the spread of Zika virus. The best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to protect oneself from mosquito bites.
“Given the wide geographical distribution of Aedes mosquitoes in various areas, it is necessary to be aware of the infection of Zika virus,” said Singh adding that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently reported the first three “laboratory-confirmed cases” of “Zika Virus Infection” in India from the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad. Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 and named after Zika forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in humans. Since then, the outbreaks of Zika infection have been recorded in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
He said that the Zika virus can infect the developing foetuses in pregnant women. Molecular virologists reported the presence of ZIKA virus in the blood, semen, urine and saliva, eye fluids of infected people. Microcephaly (birth defect) can occur in babies born from pregnant Zika virus infected mothers. Microcephaly prevents the development of a child’s head, which affects the brain development adversely and may also lead to abortion. Research has shown that during the first trimester of pregnancy, the risk of microcephaly in developing foetus is high. Molecular virologists are trying to understand how the Zika virus affects the mothers and their children during pregnancy. The real-time RT-PCR (RRT-PCR) test and ZIKA Mac-ELISA test may be used for the diagnosis of Zika virus infection.
Singh said that RNA-NAT (nucleic acid test) may be performed on the serum collected during the first two weeks of commencement of the Zika virus infection. RNA-NAT can also be performed on urine samples collected within the 14 days from the beginning of the infection. A positive RNA-NAT result on any sample confirms the infection of the Zika virus but a negative RNA-NAT result should be tested for IgM antibody (serological) in order to confirm the presence or absence of the infection.
According to them, the patients infected by Zika virus show the flu like symptoms such as conjunctivitis, fever, rash, joint pain. Many Zika virus infected patients remain asymptomatic. Symptoms of Zika virus appear within 3 to 14 days after bites of infected mosquitoes. These symptoms may persist from a week to several days. About 80 percent of patients infected with Zika virus do not show any symptoms. If one develops symptoms and lives in or visited an area where the Zika virus outbreaks are reported then one needs to consult qualified medical practitioner.
CMO office issues dos & don’ts alert
For preventing/controlling mosquito breeding:
# Cover all water tanks and containers with tight lids.
# Dispose and destroy all unused containers, junk material, tyres, coconut shells etc.
# Empty, scrub and dry desert coolers every week before refilling.
# Use larvivorous fish in ornamental tanks at houses and hotels.
# Observe weekly dry day – empty and scrub all containers holding water for a week like bird bath, flower vase, ant-trappers etc.
For Personal protection:
# Use bed-net at home and hospital during Dengue/Zika virus fever to prevent mosquito bite so as to interrupt transmission.
# To avoid mosquito bite during day time wear full sleeved clothing and apply mosquito repellent.
For managing fever:
# Use paracetamol for fever.
# Don’t allow water to stagnate in and around your house in coolers, buckets, barrels, flower pots, bird baths, freeze trays, coconut shells, etc.
# Don’t throw broken utensils, unused bottles, tin, old tyres and other junk materials here and there as Aedes mosquitos breed in these objects during rainy season.
# Don’t use Aspirin to treat fever.
# There is no specific medicine for Zika virus disease. Self-medication should be avoided, consult doctor.