India has asked the United States’ public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to “withdraw or modify” an advisory it issued on December 13 warning people against travelling to Rajasthan due to an outbreak of the Zika virus,
The government took exception to the use of “endemic” in the advisory as Zika outbreaks in India have been contained within small areas.
The CDC had said the virus was endemic to India and pointed out “there is an unusual increase in the number of Zika cases in Rajasthan and surrounding states”. It cautioned pregnant women against travelling to such areas. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. The health agency classified its alert under Level 2, which requires “enhanced protection”. Level 1 advises “usual precautions” and Level 3 advises against “non-essential travel”.
What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is similar to dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Carried by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, Zika is largely transmitted through bites, but can also occur through intrauterine infection.
It was first identified in 1947 in Zika Forest, Uganda from where it derives its name.
If a woman is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes infected, Zika can cross into the placenta and affect the fetus. While anyone can contract Zika, pregnant women are the most at risk due to the potential for fetal microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities.
Symptoms include fever, headache, red eyes, skin rash, fatigue, muscle pain etc.
Treatment and Prevention: There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.