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Zika Virus Outbreak in India 2018

India is facing its largest Zika virus outbreak with over 100 cases in Rajasthan, India, including several pregnant women with its first confirmed case in September 20181.  Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease primarily prevalent in tropical areas around the world such as Brazil, Mexico, and India.  People infected with this virus experience mild or no symptoms at all. Symptoms are similar to the flu, causing fever, rash, headache, muscle pain, and red eyes2.  However, there are some cases where Zika can be dangerous.  Women who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy should be extra cautious because Zika infection during pregnancy poses risks to microcephaly, a birth defect where an infant’s head is smaller than normal,other birth defects, or even miscarriage.  Fortunately, all of the reported Zika-infected pregnant women in Rajasthan who have given birth have delivered healthy babies2.

Currently, India is taking preventative and management measures to combat the spread of the virus. The Rajasthan Health Department is raising awareness and educating the citizens of affected areas.  Rajasthan’s health department has sent out doctors to the affected areas to monitor the outbreak. There are also teams responsible for spraying insecticides in mosquito-dense areas. Other teams are verifying cases and making sure people infected with Zika are being isolated in their homes or hospitals and are being monitored closely1.

Although there is currently no vaccination for the Zika virus, an effective preventative measure is to protect yourself and others around you from mosquito bites by covering your skin and wearing bug spray.  If you have recently traveled to a tropical area and are experiencing symptoms, seek a doctor. Your doctor may require blood or urine tests to confirm or deny infection. If you are infected, it is vital to rest and stay hydrated.

1Gupta, S. (2018, October 17). Zika spreads rapidly in India, with 94 cases confirmed. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/17/health/india-jaipur-zika-outbreak-rapid-increase-intl/index.html
2Zika Virus. (2017, August 28). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/overview.html

About Shannon Luu

Santa Clara University, BS in Biology

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