The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency for Zika Virus.
The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947. Around 3,893 microcephaly cases were suspected in Brazil in 2015. WHO has predicted that around four million people may be infected with the Zika virus in America. In most cases, there are no symptoms. In a few cases, Zika can trigger paralysis (Guillain-Barré Syndrome). However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. There’s no vaccine or specific treatment for the disease. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
Here’s a list of the guidelines issued by the health ministry that you should keep with you:
1. Prevent mosquito breeding around houses.
2. Use mosquito repellents to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
3. Non-essential travel to the affected countries in the Latin American region and the Caribbean should be cancelled.
4. Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/cancel their travel to the affected areas.
5. All travelers to the affected countries/areas should strictly follow individual protective measures, especially during the day, to prevent mosquito bites (use of mosquito repellent cream, electronic mosquito repellents, use of bed nets, and dress that appropriately covers most of the body parts).
6. Persons with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, immunity disorders, etc.) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country.
7. Travelers who complain of fever within two weeks of return from an affected country should report to the nearest health facility.
8. Pregnant women who have traveled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.