The Zika virus was first discovered in the 1940s, though most people had never heard of it until this year. That’s because, for decades, the disease seemed to do little harm. That changed in 2015 as a massive outbreak in the US — affecting more than 1 million people has changed our view of the mosquito-borne virus. In light of this evidence, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency on February 1. And now, the Indian health ministry issued detailed guidelines for combating the disease.
A majority of those infected with Zika virus disease either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body ache, joint pains. So far, 20 countries have reported the virus.
This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause dengue and chikungunya which are of great public health concern in tropical countries like India. The outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas.
Here’s a list of the guidelines issued by the health ministry that you should keep with you:
- Prevent mosquito breeding around houses.
- Use mosquito repellents to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Persons with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, immunity disorders, etc.) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country.
- Non-essential travel to the affected countries in the Latin American region and the Caribbean should be deferred/cancelled.
- All travellers to the affected countries/areas should strictly follow individual protective measures, especially during the day, to prevent mosquito bites (use of mosquito repellant cream, electronic mosquito repellants, use of bed nets, and dress that appropriately covers most of the body parts).
- Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/cancel their travel to the affected areas.
- Travellers who complain of fever within two weeks of return from an affected country should report to the nearest health facility.
- Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.
The guidelines will be for managing situation arising out of the Zika virus, tackling it and preventive measures.
Here is the full text of the guidelines:
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