INTERNATIONAL EMERGENCY OVER ZIKA VIRUS
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Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern over Zika Virus and the health problems that the doctors fear it is causing. The agency said that the emergency is warranted because of how fast the mosquito born virus is spreading and its suspected link to an alarmed spike in the babies born with abnormally small heads.
The Zika Virus has been identified decades back in Uganda where there is a river named Zika, the region around which the virus was first identified. The virus was causing illness in the African subcontinent for many years. With increase in travel to African countries, many people got inflicted with the virus, especially Latin American countries like Brazil, where huge number of babies were born with small skulls.
Those women who were suffering from viral illness during pregnancy had babies born with small skulls. The brain development in such babies slows down; ability in understanding and comprehending decreases.
At present 23 countries have been identified in which the virus is found to be affecting the lives of people. Most of these are Latin American countries. Few cases were found in Paris, Switzerland and Sweden also.
The symptoms of the people affected with Zika are fever, red eyes, body aches, head ache, nausea etc. The virus causes only mild to moderate illness. The only vulnerable category is pregnant women.
The immediate precaution that has to be taken is to screen the persons coming from affected regions. The other thing that could be done, though difficult, is to get rid of the mosquito. Canada and Chile have proudly said that they do not have this mosquito. The European countries are adopting measures like killing female mosquitoes by male mosquitoes which are genetically modified.
The peculiarity of the Zika virus vector i.e. Aedes Aegypti mosquito is active only during the day time and it can fly only up to 200m. Hence, it can be easily contained.
We need to keep our surroundings hygienic and free from water stagnation, use mosquito repellents, nets etc. There is no vaccine for this virus. So everything boils down to conscious and vigilante sanitation to keep the disease away. Also, the poor countries should be given funds to combat the virus.