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ZIKA VIRUS - IS IT DEADLY?? - Dr. Vaishali Tripathi

Discovery -

It was first reported in Ziika Forest of Uganda (1947) by Alexander John Haddow. It was isolated from samples of yellow fever patients which infected Rhesus monkey in laboratory.

History -

1. First discovered in rhesus monkey in Uganda (1947).

2. It was reported first time in humans in Nigeria (1954).

3. Until 1981 there were numerous cases reported in areas of Asia and Africa.

4. In 2007 Yap islands affected, 2013-2014 Pacific islands and 2015-2016 The Americas were found to be affected.

5. In 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

6. Again in October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus and microcephaly in babies.

Classification/ Epidemiology -

Kingdom- Orthornavirae

Phylum- Kitrinoviricota

Class- Flasuviricetes

Order- Amarillovirales

Genus- Flavivirus

Species- zika virus

Vector- Aedes aegyptis mosquito

Structure -

It is enveloped and icosa hedral in structure. It has non-segmented, single-stranded positive-sense RNA genome (+ssRNA). It has three different proteins in structure C (capsid)- protein, M(membrane)- protein and E(envelope) proteins.

Transmission -

Zika virus cause Zika virus disease and it is transmitted through Aedes mosquito bite. This mosquito is also responsible for dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever diseases. This virus also gets transmitted directly transmitted directly from mother to fetus but there are no reports regarding transmission through breastfeeding. It is also reported to spread through sexual contact.

Symptoms -

Symptoms last for 4-7 days. Incubation period in mosquitos is about 10 days. It includes Fever, Rash, Joint Pain (arthralgia), Conjunctivitis, Muscle Pain, Gullian barre syndrome and Headache. It also causes Microcephaly in babies while they are in womb of mother. Diagnosis -

The symptoms for Zika virus are same as dengue or chikungunya. It is diagnosed using PCR of blood samples and urine test. Two samples are used to rule out the false positive test.

Treatment -

There is no specific treatment available for the virus. No vaccines are yet formulated.


Breeding places for mosquitoes should be closed. One can use mosquito net to avoid the bites. If ever one gets the infection, he/ she should drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, take paracetamol for fever. During first week of infection the virus can spread through mosquito bites. Avoid medication without doctor approval. Spray insecticide in house and around to avoid outbreaks.

Is it Deadly?

NO Zika virus is not deadly but need hospitalization and its after effects can be long lasting especially in babies before there birth leading to microcephaly. In microcephaly the head of babies is smaller than a normal baby with abnormal brain development. Since it spreads through bite of mosquitoes i.e., Aedes mosquito their control is important otherwise it may lead to outbreaks too. Precautions are better than cure when no vaccine or medication is available.

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