Zika Virus – what you need to know!
Created by Swati Nitin Gupta Updated on Feb 10, 2016
Are you as a parent of a toddler or a pre-schooler worried about the safety of your child from Zika Virus? Do you also have questions on the same? If yes, then do read on to know what is Zika Virus, its symptoms, dos and don’ts and how to protect your children from Zika virus.
What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is a flavivirus, which means it is a close relative of viruses like chickengunya, dengue and yellow fever and is a disease that spreads through mosquito bites. When Aedes mosquito, which is the carrier of Zika virus, bites any human being, he or she becomes infected by the virus and also becomes the carrier of the virus.
Is there something to be concerned?
With Zika, the major concerns are 1) the rapid rate at which it is spreading across the globe. 2) The fact that it affects expecting mothers most and interferes in the development of the foetus, particularly the brain that may leave an impact on the future generations. 3) And yet, there is no known vaccine against the virus.
Do Indian Parents need to worry?
As of now, since no cases have been reported in India, we can assume that the virus hasn’t hit our shores. But then again, the rate at which it is spreading is concerning. And also the fact that most Indian cities are infested with mosquitoes, it can become a huge concern. Therefore, precaution is what is suggested in this case.
Also, Dr Sucheta Malhotra, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, based in Dwarka, says that so long as any expecting mother is not travelling to the virus infected areas the risk factors are less. However, since Asia is in the vulnerable list of Zika virus it is always advisable to take precautions.
Parents of toddlers, pre-schoolers and primary school children are more concerned because of the susceptibility of the children to the virus. Dr Rakesh Malhotra, paediatrician, practising in Dwarka, says that as parents we need to be careful and protect our children from mosquito bites.
Symptoms and cure
The symptoms, typically are mild ones like fever, muscle and joint pains, or a rash maybe. Some people also develop conjunctivitis (irritation in the eye). And these symptoms last for two to three days.
Unfortunately, till now there is no cure, as there is no medication for the virus. However, in a recent news item dated February 7, 2016, it was revealed that a biotech firm in India had found a vaccine against the infection. One Bharat Biotech International Limited, Hyderabad, India claims to have developed not one but two vaccines to treat the infection. The vaccines now named as 'Zikavac' are ready for pre-clinical trials. But so far the efficacy of the vaccine has not been established.
Precautions and prevention
Yes, there are various ways to protect yourself and your children from getting infected by Zika virus and thus prevent the spread of infection.
1. The best method to protect your children from the virus is protection from mosquito bites. Ensure that they wear full-sleeve shirts and top and trousers, especially when outdoors and in peak-mosquito times such as dusk.
2. Using good quality mosquito-repellent cream while going out or sending children to school or play. Get your home, office and society area properly fumigated.
3. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are wary of using traditional methods may use natural mosquito repellants such as citronella based creams/sprays, neem oil etc. (Refer to our blog for more tips: http://www.parentune.com/parent-blog/4-natural-mosquito-repellents-to-try/551
4. Most repellents may be safely used on children after consultation with your paediatrician/dermatologist.
5. Remember this is the same mosquito that spread the Dengue infection and it bites during the day and thrives in clean water. So, ensure that there is no stored water in or near your house, school or office.
6. Avoid going out to areas where mosquito population is high—near ponds, rivers, forested areas etc—unless well-protected with clothes and mosquito repellants.
7. In case, you notice any symptoms, do get yourself thoroughly checked for Zika. Also, quarantine the patient so that the disease does not spread further.
8. If you have pets at home make sure that the water in their bowl is changed regularly.
9. Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms that can be made mosquito-infestation free.
Stay protected, stay healthy!
| Jan 04, 2017
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