Kerala, which recorded over 13,000 COVID cases on Thursday (July 8), has yet another virus threat from Zika—a mosquito-borne viral infection. Zika’s first case was confirmed in the blood samples of a 24-year-old pregnant woman in Thiruvananthapuram, media reports said.
Doctors said the condition of the woman is stable. She delivered on June 7 and was diagnosed and hospitalised at KIMS.
Samples of 13 persons, suspected to be positive for Zika virus, have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
The symptoms of Zika virus include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
The World Health Organisation says Zika virus is caused by Aedes mosquitoes, known for being active during the day. It was first detected among monkeys in Uganda in 1947, and was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika have been detected in Asia, Africa, America and the Pacific islands.
Aedes mosquitoes, which are also carriers of dengue, breed in stagnant freshwater and rest mostly indoors.
Zika has often been linked to birth defects and development of Guillain-Barre syndrome, where one’s immune system attacks the nerves. The incubation period of Zika is between 3 and 14 days. Some people infected by it might not show any signs or symptoms. However, in pregnant women, the infection can seriously harm the developing foetus and lead to congenital anomalies.
Currently, there are no vaccines or cure for Zika virus. The virus was first isolated in 1947 in Uganda’s Zika forest.
Brazil witnessed a dangerous outbreak of the Zika virus in 2015 due to which more than 1,600 Brazilian children were born with devastating microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.
The National Institute of Virology successfully isolated the Zika virus in 2018. In India, the first local outbreak of Zika was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in 2017.