Although there has been no case of Zika virus in India, spread by Aedes Aegypti type mosquito, the government has intensified steps to prevent its breeding following the WHO alert and warned pregnant women not to travel to countries affected by Zika virus.
The union health ministry has urged deferment or cancellation of non-essential travel to Zika-affected countries as part of its new guidelines to prevent the spread of the viral disease in India. However, the guidelines also said people whose trips to Zika-affected countries were very important and they were with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, Immune disorders etc.) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to their travel.
World Health Organisation has declared Zika virus disease to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on February 1.
What is Zika
Zika virus is transmitted by daytime-active Aedes Aegypti mosquito that also carry dengue, chikungunya viruses. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947
Why India should fear Zika?
*Strongly suspected to cause birth defects and neurological problems in newborns
*Birth rate in India is high
*Potential outbreak situation, since India provides fertile climate for the aedes egypti mosquito to grow and multiply
*The mosquito also carries dengue and chikungunya viruses that claim 100s of lives and infect 1000s every year
*Lack of population immunity against the virus in newly affected areas
*No vaccines or cure
*Head and body ache
How to avoid the virus:
*Check mosquito breeding in and around your house
*The mosquito that carries Zika Virus- Aedes Aegypti- breeds in fresh water: don’t let water collect in birdbaths, planters, non-used bottles, containers, discarded waste, tyres etc.
*Use mosquito repellants such as creams, gels, electronic mosquito repellants, patches, incense sticks
*Use bed nets
*Grow plants that are known to repel mosquitoes such as citronella, basil, lemon grass, lavender, mint, rosemary etc.
*Dress appropriately that covers most of the body parts
*Take special precautions during the day as Aedes Aegypti is a day-biting mosquito
Travel Advisory for Indians
*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 travelers 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 co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, Immune disorders etc) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country
*Travelers having febrile illness 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 during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.