How Zika Virus can impact pregnant women? Preventive measures, symptoms & all you need to know

The Zika virus has knocked on doors in western India, with a doctor and his teenage daughter in Pune testing positive for the infection.

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The Zika virus has knocked on doors in western India, with a doctor and his teenage daughter in Pune testing positive for the infection. Last year, such cases were identified in Mumbai. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and the risk of infection increases as mosquitoes breed rapidly with the onset of the monsoon season.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus initially identified in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947 and gained global attention in 2015 due to a significant outbreak in America, particularly in Brazil. The outbreak was associated with an increase in babies born with microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and under-developed brains. Pregnant women were at high risk, and the virus could affect their offspring.

Zika Virus a serious threat to Pregnant womens;

The Zika virus presents a grave health risk for pregnant women. If an expectant mother contracts the Zika virus, there is a high risk of transmitting the infection to her unborn baby during pregnancy. This transmission can result in the development of severe birth defects, particularly microcephaly, a condition characterized by the baby's head being considerably smaller than usual. Infants affected by these conditions often face significant intellectual disabilities and may encounter challenges in their overall development.

It may also lead to miscarriage, premature birth, and many serious problems for a baby such has-

  1. vision problem
  2. hearing loss
  3. seizures
  4. developmental delays
  5. brain abnormalities
Visible Symptoms-  

Approximately 80 percent of those infected with the Zika virus do not experience any symptoms. Some may develop mild symptoms such as:

  • Mild fever
  • Body rashes
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache 
How is it transmitted? 

Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can also spread through the following:

  1. sexual contact;
  2. blood transfusion; and
  3. from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

The virus can pass through the placenta to the baby. 

Can the virus cause complications? 

Infection during pregnancy can lead to birth defects like microcephaly and other neurological disorders in the baby. Expecting mothers need to be vigilant, especially during the first trimester, and undergo ultrasound screenings. 

What is the test for Zika? 

The recommended test is the RT-PCR test of the blood or urine, which is most effective when conducted within a week of the onset of symptoms. After that, its effectiveness may diminish. 

What are preventive measures?

Pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant are often advised to postpone travel to areas with active Zika transmission. One should practice safe sex and use condoms to prevent sexual transmission of the Zika virus. Blood screening and testing can reduce the risk of transmission through blood transfusions. 

How do I treat the Zika virus? 

Zika virus infection is self-limiting and requires only symptomatic treatment. There is no specific treatment available. It is suggested to take paracetamol to get relief from the pain and fever, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated. Pregnant women who may have suffered from Zika need to be under supervision for potential birth defects.