In India, the first outbreak of Zika virus disease was reported in Ahmedabad in January and February 2017 and second in July 2017 in Tamil Nadu. Both the outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
But, what has set the alarm bells ringing is today’s announcement by the Rajasthan government that as many as 29 persons, including three pregnant women, have been tested positive for Zika virus in Jaipur’s Shastri Nagar locality.
The announcement prompted the Union Health Ministry to issue an appeal to people not to panic. It also assured them that the virus outbreak was under control and the government had been monitoring the situation closely. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought a comprehensive report from the ministry on the Zika outbreak.
With the government agencies being put on alert, it is natural for everyone to feel scared. And, it’s more important now than ever to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Zika virus disease is linked to birth defects and development of Guillain-Barre syndrome in which one’s immune system attacks the nerves. Although some infected people do not show any signs or symptoms, common symptoms of mosquito-borne Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
At present, there is no vaccine available to protect one against Zika virus disease, it becomes pertinent to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Here are some tips on how to protect from getting infected with Zika virus:
– Remember that Aedes species mosquito that spread Zika virus may be more likely to bite during daytime hours.
– Wear full sleeves shirts and long pants and tuck your pants into your socks when outdoors.
– Wear light-coloured clothing as mosquitoes are thought to be more attracted to darker colours.
– Apply good quality insect repellents and reapply as directed. Consult your doctor about what kinds of repellents are safe to use in pregnancy.
– Remove all sources of standing water, which can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.