Sanitation and hygiene are part of preventive health; can ward off diseases such as Zika

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

New cases reported in India; people should be aware of symptoms and measures

New Delhi, 14 October 2018: About 42 cases of a localized outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus disease (ZVD) have been reported in Jaipur, Rajasthan so far already. A seven-member high level central committee has been deputed to the city. The Zika virus–which has no cure or vaccine–was first found in Pune 64 years ago, as part of a survey that was testing immunity to Japanese and Russian varieties of a virus-borne brain infection called encephalitis.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. The symptoms of this disease are similar to those in other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Dengue and Chikungunya are already endemic in the country. Like Dengue and Chikungunya, Zika is a viral infection and also shares a common vector with them, the Aedes mosquitoes. The incubation period is 3 to 14 days. Most people are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Symptoms generally last for 2–7 days. These new cases tell us that all this time, the Zika virus has been circulating in the community and suggest low-level transmission of the virus. There is also the likelihood of more cases occurring in the near future. This should be of great concern to all, especially the public health authorities given India’s huge population, and climate that is favorable to vector-borne diseases.”

Zika virus infection is also a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis, particularly in adults and older children.A pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Patients should be advised to take paracetamol to relieve fever and pain, plenty of rest and plenty of liquids. Avoid aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. While enhanced surveillance, community-based including at international airports and ports, to track cases of acute febrile illness is the need of the hour, creating public awareness about the disease including preventive measures should be the focus. At the same time, the public should be assured that there is no need to panic.”

Hygiene and sanitation are the cornerstones for preventing mosquito-borne disease such as Zika. This is also one aspect of preventive health, a topic that will be discussed widely in the 25thMTNL Perfect Health Mela 2018. The event will take place from 23rd to 27th October at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Stay inside when the Aedes are most active. They bite during the daytime, in the very early morning, and in the few hours before sunset.
  • Buildings with screens and air conditioning are safest.
  • Wear shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when you go outside.
  • Ensure that rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
  • Wear bug spray or cream that contains DEET or a chemical called picaridin.