Indian Medical Association raises awareness about Zika Virus amongst the public and the medical fraternity
Zika, a viral infection causes fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes. It spreads mainly through Aedes mosquito bites. But can also spread from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby, and through anal, oral or vaginal sex. If acquired during pregnancy it can cause microcephaly in foetus. If one is not pregnant or not planning to get pregnant it is likely to be harmless.
Zika is seen in Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Central and South America, Mexico, Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. No cases have yet been reported in India. Most (80%) people infected with Zika have no or only mild symptoms. If there are symptoms, they usually happen 2 to 12 days after being bitten by a mosquito that has the virus. The Zika Virus is notorious and can also cause Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Raising awareness, Dr SS Agarwal – National President IMA & Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA said, “If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it is recommended that you avoid traveling to countries where the Zika virus is present. There is no specific treatment for the Zika virus and patients must take rest, drink plenty of fluids & have Paracetamol to control their fever. It is important to remember that you must not take aspirin. In children, aspirin can trigger a serious condition called the Reye syndrome.”
To prevent getting Zika virus, one must stay inside when the aedes are most active. They bite during the daytime, very early in the morning, and in hours before sunset. Buildings with screens and air conditioning are safest. Wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when you go outside. Wear bug spray or cream that contains DEET or a chemical called picaridin. Do not use DEET on babies younger than 2 months. On your clothes and gear, use bug repellants that have a chemical permethrin. Drain any standing water. Avoid mosquito bites if you have already gotten Zika to stop it from further spreading.
If you have been to a country where people are infected with the Zika virus, you should not donate blood for at least 4 weeks afterwards. There is no vaccine for Zika virus infection.
Travellers returning from areas with Zika virus transmission should abstain from or have only protected sex for at least eight weeks. Couples planning to conceive should also wait eight weeks—or six months if the male partner has symptoms of the virus. Previously, IMA recommended abstinence or protected sex for four weeks following a person’s return from an area where Zika is circulating. All Indian athletes and visitors attending this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016 should use condoms while in Rio and for eight weeks after returning home.
WHO has already ruled out any change in timing or the location of the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In last common wealth games that took place in India there was a threat of the deadly dengue virus. Unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic.
IMA has warned to all those travelling to Brazil to take precautions against mosquito bites and have said pregnant women should avoid areas where Zika is circulating, including Rio.