Zika virus during the covid-19 pandemic – Why do we need to be prepared?

Written by – Dr Swati Rajagopal, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Aster CMI Hospital

Zika virus is spread by the bite of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopiticus mosquitoes which are mainly active during the day. The virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, which in turn can cause birth defects and impact newborns. As the covid-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country, the new re-emerging pathogen has threatened the health and safety of many lives. Therefore, before the infection turns into a double whammy during the pandemic, it has become extremely critical for the population as a whole to understand and adopt the various control measures to limit the spread of the disease.

With several cases of Zika virus currently detected in Kerala, the Zika virus still does not have a specific treatment or vaccine and the development of the Zika vaccine remains an active area of ​​research. The United Nations health agency advises people with symptoms to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and “treat pain and fever with common medications.” Zika virus infection can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. According to the WHO, special attention should be paid to preventing mosquito bites in pregnant women, women of childbearing age and young children, according to the WHO.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

The first visible sign of Zika is fever, which looks a lot like dengue. For this reason, many people often confuse the symptoms of Zika with those of the flu, and as a result, they are not sure whether or not they have contracted Zika.

If a person has a fever, runny nose, headache, and rash that lasts for more than a week, it’s important that they get tested as soon as possible.

Other symptoms of the disease include –

  1. Conjunctivitis
  2. Muscle and joint pain
  3. Headache beginning after two to seven days of exposure to the disease.
  4. Autoimmune infections in rare cases
  5. Aches
  6. Eruption
  7. Eye congestion
  8. Myalgia and its joint

These symptoms usually last from a few days to a week. If anyone has traveled to an area with Zika and develops the above symptoms, should contact a health care provider. Molecular blood tests are used to confirm the presence of viruses.

What is the treatment for the disease?

Although there is no vaccine for Zika, specific treatment for the disease includes supportive care, rest and hydration. Patients are also given paracetamol to reduce fever and no pain reliever should be used during treatment of the disease.

For caregivers, it is important to know the following dos and don’ts

  1. Body fluids and blood should not be touched, if it is, wash with soap and water after taking care
  2. If the clothes are stained with body fluids or blood should be washed with laundry detergent with appropriate water temperature
  3. All surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids or blood should be wiped down with household cleaners or disinfectants

Disease control measures include –

  1. Mosquito control and mosquito bite prevention
  2. Government agencies consider measures to control larvae and adult mosquitoes
  3. Mosquito control at home – use of door screens, window screens
  4. Close the doors
  5. Clean vases, water pots at home to prevent waterlogging and mosquito breeding
  6. Mosquito repellent, mosquito nets should help
  7. Prevent waterlogging around the house and construction areas – these are areas where there could be mosquito breeding
  8. Local public health bodies should be informed of the necessary measures

It is important to remain vigilant during current times. The monsoon is certainly a breeding ground for mosquitoes and there is therefore an urgent need for monitoring of pregnant women. Currently, local awareness in these areas is spreading.

Everyone, including patients who have recovered from Covid and Covid – preventing mosquito bites is key because it is also dengue season. If local health agencies control the spread of mosquitoes – vector control measures are taken, we should be able to control the infection.

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