Hyderabad: This monsoon, doctors say that they will not only have to test the patient for dengue, chikungunya but also Zika as the three cases in Gujarat confirm that the virus is circulating in the Indian environment.
India was in World Health Organisation Category 4 which meant that the virus could be there but no notified cases were documented. Now it is in WHO Category 2 with three cases being documented in Gujarat.
The three cases confirm that the virus is around and it requires controlling day time mosquitoes but also effective and easy diagnosis so that the spread is curtailed.
Zika is caused by day time Aedes mosquito A aegypti and A albopictus which breed in clean and clear water. For this reason, epidemiology wing has to begin awareness and ensure that people do not allow clean water to stagnate in pots, trays, drinking water drums, overhead tanks or in containers for the birds.
While mosquitoes can fly only 150 meters they are transported from one place to another either by aeroplane, buses and trucks. Hence controlling them is now a very wide concern for epidemiologists. To add to this is the diagnosis as the disease mimics the existing ones. Senior paediatrician Dr Ramesh Dasari said, “The symptoms of Zika virus are similar to dengue, chikungunya and leptospirosis. They include fever, joint pains, rash and redness in the eyes. Hence the first line of treatment is to test for dengue. If that is negative then Zika tests will have to be carried out.”
Presently the tests are being carried out at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The government needs to extend it to Institute of Preventive Health stated sources in health department.
For normal people doctors state that it is not much of a threat but for pregnant women it is a cause of concern as the more the viral load than the foetus can be affected.
Dr Geeta Naidu, senior gynaecologist explained, “If the viral load is higher in the women than repeated ultrasound has to be done to check if the foetus is affected. Researchers have found hardened calcium deposits in the brain, breakdown in brain tissue, brain swelling and also poor growth of the foetus. There have also been still births because of the virus.”
This requires constant surveillance for pregnant woman and also ensuring that they are safe from the mosquito bite. Doctors state that keeping themselves fully covered is the only option to prevent the bite. Otherwise mosquito repellent creams must be used regularly to prevent the bite.
There is no treatment for Zika except that paracetamol is given for fever and pain killers for the body pain. There is isolation recommended so that the disease does not get transmitted to others. Rest and sufficient intake of fluids is a must to allow the body to deal with the virus load.