The Zika virus, which is the cause of an ongoing epidemic in Brazil and parts of other American continents, is a virus of the genus ‘Flavivirus,’ which also includes other viruses such as the dengue virus, the West Nile virus, etc.
Transmission of the Zika virus is primarily carried out by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are active during the day and are known to be carriers of the dengue and yellow fever viruses as well. Other sources of transmission include blood transfusions, unprotected sexual relations and through pregnancy.
Pregnant women affected by the Zika virus can transmit it to their unborn children, who could then consequently suffer from conditions such as microcephaly and brain damage upon birth. A Zika outbreak is a legitimate cause for concern for any country in the world and India is not exactly safe from it either.
According to the WHO, India has had very few cases, three to be specific, of people being diagnosed as being positive for the Zika virus (1). All three cases happened in 2016 and 2017 and were limited to the state of Gujarat. While this fact by itself may not sound very alarming, other factors need to be taken into consideration with regards to the history of the Zika virus in India.
The Indian population, in general, has long suffered from mosquito-borne diseases. Reports suggest that over 75% of malaria cases from South East Asia originate in India (2). The instances of chikungunya, dengue, etc. also remain high. Can the new disease Zika also join the fray?
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is commonly found in India’s rural and urban population centers. It thrives in the warm Indian climate and can be distinguished due to its white markings and striped legs. The mosquito bites during the day and, as mentioned previously, carries diseases such as dengue and chikungunya, which are already prevalent in the country.
According to a study in 1954, instances of antibodies against the Zika virus were detected among certain residents of Bharuch, Gujarat and Nagpur, Maharashtra (3). Antibodies against the virus were also detected in residents of Pune (Poona) in 1952, which pointed towards the ‘confirmation’ of the presence of Zika. As per a WHO bulletin, the Zika virus has also been detected in Indian mosquitoes between 1969 and 1983.
While the exact reasons behind why these specific antibodies against the Zika virus existed in the subjects of this study and how the virus continued to exist in mosquitoes is unclear, the presence of an older, dormant strain of Zika cannot be ruled out, putting India, most certainly, at risk.
There is no specific cure or vaccine for the Zika virus, and if it affects a pregnant woman, the chances of it spreading to the baby and causing congenital disabilities are fairly high. It is therefore important to ensure that preventive measures are undertaken to keep the disease and the mosquitoes that cause it at bay.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself against Zika:
- Get A Mosquito Repellent Machine and KEEP IT ON!
The best prevention against the Zika virus is to keep the mosquitoes that cause it far away from your home. One of the best ways of repelling mosquitoes is by using a good quality mosquito repellent system such as the Goodknight Activ+ System. The machine, which comes with the choice of switching between a ‘Normal mode’ and an ‘Activ mode,’ works well against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, as well as other mosquitoes, and provides complete protection for your family.
It is highly important, however, to keep the machine on throughout, even during the daytime. The Aedes aegypti mosquito feeds during daytime and it is thus essential to stay protected against it during that time. This is particularly relevant for houses where there are pregnant women or very young children, as those are at the highest risk of health complications arising from the Zika virus.
- Be Vigilant About Mosquito Breeding Grounds
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus is a very ‘urban’ mosquito, in the sense that it thrives in artificial surroundings. The mosquito prefers to lay its eggs in containers, boxes, bins, pots, etc. where there’s adequate moisture (4). It is therefore important to be vigilant about potential breeding grounds for mosquito larvae.
Any plastic drums, old tires, pots, buckets, polythene sheets and other containers holding even the slightest quantities of water need to be dealt with and disposed of, as the mosquito might very well be breeding there.
- Apply An Adequate Mosquito Repellent When Going Out
Avoid exposure to mosquitoes as much as possible to reduce your chances of contracting the Zika virus. Before you go out, make sure that you apply 4 dots of the Goodknight Fabric Roll-On on your clothes to keep mosquitoes away.
It made using 100% natural ingredients and is certified safe to be applied on the clothes of babies as well as adults and provides an 8-hour window of protection at a stretch. Make sure you keep the Roll-On with you when you go out even when you’ve applied it, in case you end up staying out for longer than 8 hours!
Prevention is the best method of avoiding the Zika virus altogether, and if you follow the advice given above, it will surely help to keep the disease at bay!