Can the Zika virus, that has been sending the chills down the spines of pregnant women in Latin American, find a home in India too?
The fear is prevalent as the virus is circulating, through travellers from Latin America, in Maldives and Thailand too. This pattern shows that Indian could be a potential host for the virus as the country offers a similar environment.
Infection of the Zika virus happens when the Aedes mosquito bites a person. Aedes mosquito also transmits the Dengue virus and is found widely in India.
Currently only 20% of people infected with the virus are showing symptoms. What the health officials fear is that is an Aedes mosquito bites an infected person who has come to India, in no time Zika virus would spread widely in India too.
This is why Indian Medical Association on Thursday issued an advisory asking pregnant Indian women to avoid visiting Latin America.
This warning comes after the WHO conveying an emergency committee to discuss about the â€śexplosiveâ€ť spread of the Zika virus in 23 countries of the continent.
Although there are no reported cases of Zika in India till now, but the authorities are being cautious as the conditions in India are similar to that of the tropical and sub-tropical America.
Even the US reported of 31 cases of infection and all in those who had travelled to the affected areas.
Brazil alone possibly has one million cases of Zika infection since last September and there were 4,000 instances of babies born with microcephaly, a birth disorder which has been casually established with the viral infection.
Here are the five things you need to know
1. The virus born disease is transmitted by Aedes mosquito which acts as the vector. The same breed of mosquitoes is responsible for spreading dengue. The disease is spread when an Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and bites others.
2. The virus is similar to that of chikungunia and dengue and has similar symptoms like body ache and fever or often without symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected. But more importantly, there is a casual connection established between microcephaly, a neurological birth disorder which can have fatal consequences or development anomalies.
3. There is no available treatment or vaccine available to counter the virus. Prevention measures include not visiting Zika affected areas, avoiding mosquito bites. Once infected the damage could be minimized by ensuring that the disease is not spread.
4. Currently most countries in the central and South America are infected which includes Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
5. The Olympic Games which are scheduled to be held in Brazil are also a concern. The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, is reported to be in â€śclose contactâ€ť with Brazilian authorities and the WHO. The Games are scheduled to be held in August 2016.
For detailed information, read the WHO guidelines.