A 79-year-old man in Mumbai has tested positive for the Zika virus, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Common symptoms of this illness include fever and joint pain.
This is the first reported case of Zika virus in Chembur, Mumbai, as confirmed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The man experienced symptoms like fever, cough, and a stuffy nose.
The virus is spread by aedes ageypti mosquitoes, which can also transmit dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and West Nile virus. While many people infected show no symptoms, some may experience fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain.
Preventing mosquito bites is important. You can do this by using bug sprays, lemon eucalyptus oil, and wearing long-sleeved clothes and socks.
Certain groups, like the elderly, pregnant women, people with diabetes, cancer patients, those taking immunosuppressive meds, and individuals with HIV, are more vulnerable to serious infection. Zika virus, if not treated, might lead to issues like organ problems, neurological symptoms, and seizures.
Zika virus cases are rare in India. For example, in 2021, a pregnant 24-year-old from Kerala got infected. Similarly, a 50-year-old woman from Maharashtra’s Belsar also tested positive.
In 2022, a 7-year-old girl from a government ashramshala in Zai, Talasari was diagnosed with Zika virus.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is an infectious disease caused by a type of virus called Zika. It belongs to the same group of viruses (flaviviridae) as dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus.
The main way Zika spreads is through mosquito bites. It can also spread from a pregnant mother to her baby, through sexual contact, blood transfusion, organ transplant, or in a laboratory setting, as explained by Dr. Rohit Garg from Faridabad.
“Zika poses a significant health risk due to the recent increase in cases, along with its complications and severity. This illness is spread by mosquitoes that bite during the day, specifically Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are well-suited to urban areas and can transmit the virus easily. While Zika can affect people of all ages, it particularly impacts children and pregnant women, leading to a notable amount of sickness,” explains Dr. Neha Rastogi from Gurugram.
Symptoms of Zika virus:
- Acute illness with mild fever
- Itchy rash and red eyes
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches
- Headache and tiredness
- Stomach pain and queasiness
- Diarrhea and sores on skin or mouth
- Rare complications: eye, heart, or nerve problems (not very common)
Clinical presentation of Zika virus
In the way it shows up in people, there are slow and lasting issues. It starts with a short period before symptoms show up and fever being the first sign – usually a high fever, along with muscle and joint pain that can be quite bad.
Around the 5th or 6th day of being sick, a rash that’s itchy and bumpy often appears. Dr. Rastogi explains that unlike dengue, there isn’t much bleeding or hemorrhaging with this illness.
Complications and Risk Factors of Zika virus
According to Dr. Rastogi, certain groups are more vulnerable to severe infection and extended illness. This includes the elderly, children, pregnant women, individuals with uncontrolled diabetes, cancer patients, those taking immunosuppressive medications, people dependent on dialysis, and those with HIV.
If left untreated or prolonged, the infection can lead to organ dysfunctions. Zika infection is often linked to neurological issues, such as seizures, altered consciousness, encephalitis, and nerve-related problems.
In pregnant women, the virus can even be transmitted from mother to child, potentially causing delays in organ development and congenital Zika syndrome.
The virus carried by mosquitoes can cause issues in adults’ nervous systems. If someone catches the Zika Virus while pregnant, it can affect the baby’s growth, resulting in a small head and underdeveloped brain,” explains Dr. Rajesh Kumar, a Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine at Paras Health, Gurugram.
It’s important to watch out for young children who play outside during the evening, as they are more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes. People with weak immune systems or medical conditions need to be extra cautious because they could face worse symptoms if they get infected.
“Zika Virus can lead to various complications, especially in pregnant women, affecting their baby’s health. Common problems include birth defects, neurological issues, miscarriage, eye problems, and more. Pregnant women are prone to Zika symptoms, which can lead to serious childbirth complications. These may involve a small head and underdeveloped brain, causing learning and cognitive issues, along with other neurological problems.
Zika Virus also increases miscarriage risk. In some cases, it can lead to neurological issues in adults where the immune system attacks the nervous system, causing problems like paralysis, weak muscles, and even life-threatening situations. A common Zika symptom is red eyes that might develop into conjunctivitis, affecting vision and the retina,” according to Dr. Kumar
Preventing Zika Virus
Protecting yourself from the Zika virus is quite simple. To avoid mosquito bites, make sure you eliminate places where mosquitoes breed, like stagnant water in objects such as tires, plastic covers, flower pots, and pet water bowls. Keep doors and windows closed to keep mosquitoes out, and wear long-sleeve shirts and pants to cover yourself. You can also use mosquito repellents, mosquito nets, and other protective measures.
If you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid traveling to areas where the virus is common. Additionally, practicing safe sex and waiting at least three months for men and eight weeks for women after symptoms subside can reduce transmission risk. It’s also important not to donate blood or tissue for six months after exposure to the virus.
Remember, these steps can greatly help prevent Zika virus transmission, as advised by Dr. Garg and Dr. Laxman Jessani.
- To minimize exposure to mosquito bites, follow these steps:
- Use insect repellents and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wear long-sleeved clothing and socks for protection.
- Prevent mosquito breeding by:
- Emptying containers that collect water, like flowerpots and tires.
- This can help reduce the mosquito population.
- If you’re in a Zika-affected area or planning to travel there:
- Practice safe sex to prevent transmission.
- For pregnant individuals:
- Take extra precautions.
- Avoid traveling to areas with active Zika transmission.
- Use preventive measures if your partner has been to such areas.
- Stay informed by:
- Checking travel advisories and health guidelines from reliable sources like WHO.
- Use physical barriers:
- Install screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering living spaces.
Children who play outdoors in the evening are more at risk of getting Zika Virus. To protect them, it’s important for kids to wear protective clothing when they go outside to prevent mosquito bites. It’s also crucial to avoid letting water accumulate nearby, as mosquitoes can breed there and cause various diseases.
According to Dr. Kumar, staying safe from Zika Virus is all about prevention since there’s no vaccine or cure for it. Preventing Zika virus infection involves both personal steps and community actions.
By following these prevention tips, you can greatly reduce the chances of getting Zika virus and facing complications, explains Dr. Jessani.