New Delhi: South Africa’s tryst with viruses, originating in the wide-spread forest cover encompassing the continent has been a centuries old affair. The Zika virus as we know it, borrowed its name from the Zika forests in Uganda and is proving to be the latest challenge, on the already elaborate list of maladies sending medical establishments in a limbo worldwide.
The virus was initially identified among primates in Uganda in 1947 and later in humans in 1952. Though contained at first, Zikas first major outbreak was reported from the Island of Yap in 2007. Mosquitoes in the genus Aedes coupled with sexual contact amongst humans are being held accountable for the flavivirus’es swiftly increasing grip over the world.
World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that Zika infection associated with microcephaly and other neurological disorders constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
By the start of February 2016, local transmission of Zika infection had been reported from more than 20 countries and territories in the Americas, and an outbreak numbering thousands of cases was under way in Cabo Verde, western Africa. Beyond the range of mosquito vectors, Zika virus infections are expected to be carried worldwide by international travel.
Zika infections often begin with a headache. Within a few days patients may develop rashes, bloodshot eyes and run a fever. Some patients may also go on to develop joint pains in their wrists, knees and ankles, as well as muscle pain, and pain behind the eyes. These symptoms can last for up to a week.
However, only about one in four or five people infected with Zika virus actually go on to develop any symptoms at all. There is no treatment for Zika yet.
The CDC recommends that those who are infected stay hydrated, get plenty of rest and take pain relief medication such as Tylenol to reduce any pain or fever.
With international organisations including the WHO still trying to make monetary provisions in order to successfully combat the epidemic, finding a cure remains a distant fantasy.