What You Need To Know About The Zika Virus

Human health has been always challenged by the outbreak of several epidemics which in turn have successfully  wiped out the population, thus keeping our medical achievements and scientific advancement under check. We are therefore in a position where we do not have an immediate solution when an epidemic as critical as the one triggered by the Zika virus  hits the scene.

WHO has declared that the Zika virus is “a public health emergency of international concern.” Needless to say, we can never underestimate the power of epidemics.

The Daily Mail UK has reported that the Zika is “named after an isolated forest in Uganda where it was discovered in a monkey in 1947. Since then the virus has spread to countries like Nigeria and even parts of Asia including  India, Malaysia, Indonesia. The commons symptoms consist of the   pink-eye, fever, rashes , joint pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea and lethargy.” Health officials are extremely concerned by the causal relationship between ZIka and a congenital condition called microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and suffer from brain damage. The Zika virus is projected to infect up to four million people by the year’s end, according to the WHO.

“Even the clusters of microcephaly alone are enough to declare a public health emergency because of its heavy burden” on women, families and the community,” stated WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.

Zika poses a potential health hazard all the more because it’s not as well known as the viruses responsible for other vector borne diseases like dengue and malaria. It was first discovered in the year 1947 in a Rhesus monkey. Since then, it has spread slowly but steadily among human species. However the growing brouhaha over the consequences of its transmission from person to person and from nation to nation is very recent. The Zika virus caught the attention of scientists and health experts from 2007 onwards, after nearly 70 years of its discovery.

It’s capability of affecting  4 million people based on WHO reports highlights the  lackadaisical attitude of scientists and medical experts who were not as vigilant  about the virus as they were about  the viruses that were responsible for the outbreak of yellow fever, dengue and malaria. It is regrettable because Africa, Brazil and other Third World Countries have been constant habitats of vector borne diseases. It was expected that health experts would work to wipe out the disease from its roots.

Health experts in the US have come to the conclusion that people can get affected by the virus via sexual contact. Zika virus can even cause neurological disorders and destroy the immune system. According to reports, European travelers became infected with the virus when they travelled to countries where the influence of Zika is predominant.

The outbreak of Zika virus is a case of the fatal consequences of human ignorance. One example of that as The Independent reports is of the widespread deforestation that has aggravated the rise of epidemic. However it is expected that there will be vaccines for treatment in the near future. A report in Reuters has stated that a drug maker from France Sanofi SA has “ launched a project to develop a vaccine against the virus.” “Sanofi Pasteurs vaccines division would use its expertise in developing vaccines for similar viruses such as yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue.” After all, medical science will continue to evolve as long as health is threatened by the outbreak of diseases, so that might be an answer to the ambivalent battle fought between epidemics and science.

We cannot afford to forget that the future of human health is under massive threat as Zika virus has made its passage in 23 countries.

Written by Swastisha Mukherjee. Edited by Manisha 


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