Mosquito-borne Zika virus creates panic over birth defects in Latin America
Mosquito-borne Zika virus has created a panic over thousands birth defects in the Latin America countries.
New case of child born with the virus has been reported in these countries. However, Brazil is experiencing the largest known outbreak of Zika with most cases in the north-east region.
In this region, babies have been born a with abnormal condition called microcephaly i.e. with abnormally smaller heads which can cause brain damage.
To avoid the spread of Zika virus some Latin American countries viz. Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica have warned women to avoid getting pregnant.
The virus also has been reported in the United States (US) after three cases were detected in Florida in people who had recently travelled to Latin America.
About Zika virus
- Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
- Virus family: Flaviviridae.
- Genus: Flavivirus.
- The virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda and its name has been derived from Zika Forest.
- Transmission: Zika virus is not contagious but it is mainly transmitted by daytime-active Aedes aegypti mosquitoes after it bites someone infected with the virus and transmit it by biting another human.
- Most common symptoms: Headache, muscle and joint pain, mild fever, rash, pinkeye and inflammation of the underside of the eyelid.
- Treatment and Prevention: There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.
Special Note: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes also transmit 3 other vector-borne diseases Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever.