“Zika is a disease caused by Zika Virus and is spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Symptoms are very similar to viral illnesses including fever, joint pains, rash and conjunctival suffusion. The symptoms could present roughly about a week post being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, since there is no treatment for Zika, it is important that one takes all the necessary precaution to stay safe,” says Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant – Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, Bangalore.
Since there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, the best way to prevent disease is to protect oneself from mosquito bites. They include:
- To wear long sleeved shirts and long pants
- Air conditioned rooms, Rooms that have window and door screens to prevent mosquito entry would be useful
- Insect repellents can prevent mosquito bites
- To sleep under mosquito nets in case one is not able to use insect repellents
- Pregnant women [any trimester] – should avoid travel to areas with on-going Zika virus transmission, as it can lead to congenital defects like microencephaly / poor pregnancy outcomes. Postpone your travel if possible. If contemplating travel, pregnant women must seek advice from health care provider
It is crucial to protect young ones/ babies from the virus. As parents you can take the following preventive measures:
- Avoid use of insect repellents on babies younger than two months of age.
- Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs
- Cover the baby carrier/ crib with mosquito netting
- For older children, spray insect repellent onto one’s hands and then apply to child’s face.
If you are affected by the Zika virus, adequate rest, hydration and supportive care are the best ways to get through the disease. One can take the following measures:
- Symptomatic treatment in form of rest, fluids and anti-pyretic agents.
- Protect others: During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and can be transmitted from an infected person to another person through bite of mosquitoes. An infected mosquito can then transmit infection to other people. It may be reasonable to protect oneself from mosquito bites during the first week of illness so that other people do not fall sick