Kerala has reported its first case of Zika virus disease. The patient is a pregnant woman. The Health Minister’s Office said the confirmed case was reported in Thiruvananthapuram. Thirteen samples of persons suspected to show symptoms of the disease, have been sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The state is on alert. This comes the state is fighting a rise in coronavirus cases.
The 24-year-old pregnant woman was admitted to a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on June 28 with fever, headache and red rashes, said Health Minister Veena George in a release. After showing signs of the Zika virus infection, a further test was done at the NIV in Pune. The young woman is healthy as of now, and on July 7, she delivered her baby. She had no history of travelling outside the state. Her home is on the Tamil Nadu border. Incidentally, a week earlier, her mother had shown similar symptoms. The Zika virus also affects pregnant women and may cause neurological disorders in newborns.
A total of 19 samples were sent from various centres in Thiruvananthapuram, and 13 of these are suspected to be positive for the virus. However there is no confirmation from NIV Pune on this, the Minister added.
The Zika virus infection is caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV), which is a mosquito-borne human flavivirus. It transmits through mainly Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during early mornings or late evenings. The mosquito is also known to transmit transmits chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever. The incubation period, which is the time between the exposure to the virus and presenting symptoms, is three to 14 days, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). So far, 86 countries and territories have reported mosquito-transmitted Zika infection.
The symptoms in most cases are mild and last for two to seven days. These include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, rash, conjunctivitis or malaise. According to WHO, most patients could be asymptomatic, that is, they may not exhibit any symptoms.
In addition to the transmission through mosquito bites, the Zika virus is reported to transmit from a mother to her foetus during pregnancy. The babies are reported to be born with congenital malformations called congenital Zika syndrome. In the 2015 outbreak of Zika virus infections in Brazil, babies were born with microcephaly, a neurological condition that makes the baby’s head smaller than normal size. It could also lead to other pregnancy complications.
An increased risk of neurologic complications is associated with Zika virus infection in adults and children, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis.
The virus could also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion or organ transplant.
Protection against Zika virus primarily involves preventing mosquito bites. According to WHO, no vaccines have been developed yet to prevent the disease. There is no treatment for the disease yet. Although the symptoms could be mild, infected persons seek medical attention if it worsens.
Do’s and don’ts
The National Centre for Disease Control in India, in its guidelines on Zika virus infection, specified the following measures.
> Don’t let water stagnate: To control or prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, keep water tanks and containers covered, dispose of containers including tyres, coconut shells and other junk materials lying scattered around from premises. Growing larvivorous fish in households are also recommended.
> Do not use Aspirin to treat fever associated with Zika virus infection.