oppn parties Zika Virus, Microcephaly and India

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  • Citizenship Bill to be tabled in the Lok Sabha today. Heated debate likely
  • Domestic tourism in Kashmir slumps by 87% in August-November period
  • Prime Minister Modi says police must make women feel safe
  • West Indies beat India by 8 wickets in the second T20 at Thiruvananthpuram
  • Rahul Gandhi says the NDA government kept Chidambaram in jail for so many days in order to take revenge
  • Kohli reclaims the top spot in ICC rankings from Steve Smith
  • Cabinet clears the Citizenship Bill. It will be placed in the Lok Sabha in a day or two
  • Hindu Jagran Manch members clash with the police in Kolkata after being refused permission to take out a rally
  • West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar says important files were sent late to him and his delay in signing them draws criticism from the TMC. It also brings the state assembly to a halt
  • 92,000 BSNL & MTNL employees apply for early retirement taking advantage of the new government offer. It will result in an annual savings of Rs 8.700 cr for the merged entity
  • Dengue deaths multiply in Kolkata even as the CM, Mamata Banerjee, asks the opposition not to politicize the matter
  • Government orders inquiry into the breach of security at Priyanka Vadra's house
  • Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian helps Nasa find the pieces of Vikram lander on the Moon's surface
  • New Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray says his administration will take back cases against Dalits and activists in the Bhima Koregaon case
  • Dhawan calls his dismissal "nonsense"
43 killed in a fire at units in illegal building in heart of Delhi
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Zika Virus, Microcephaly and India

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2016-02-01 20:18:31

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Although no known connection has been found yet between the Zika virus and microcephaly, the haunting images of newborns with small or misshaped heads coming out of Brazil has created a huge amount of interest – and fear – in both the virus and the disease. To understand why people are afraid, it is necessary to know what Zika and microcephaly mean.

Zika virus is a member of Flaviviridae virus family and is spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquitoes. It is a day time active virus that breeds in fresh water. While the disease itself is not life threatening – a mild fever, rashes, joint pains and conjunctivitis (red, swollen eyes) for a few days are the main symptoms – there is no known vaccination against the disease nor any medicine to treat it.

Microcephaly is a condition where new born babies are born with a head smaller than what is expected. This can be detected during pregnancy by doing an ultra-sonography (USG) or even after birth by comparing the circumference of the head with babies of similar sex and race. Babies born with this condition can suffer from seizures, development delays, intellectual disabilities, problems with movement and balance, difficulty in swallowing, hearing loss and vision problems. This is a very rare disease, not afflicting even 0.02 percent of newborns.

But with the spread of Zika in southern America – it has reached pandemic levels there – and the birth of babies with small or deformed heads, researchers are trying to find out whether a surge in such births is in fact related to the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil. The Brazilian government had even issued an advisory to women to refrain from getting pregnant for a few years. But that was an alarming advisory, as the Zika virus strain is not known to remain in the affected person’s blood for more than two weeks after the symptoms have subsided.

India, some reports have suggested, is very vulnerable as there are no testing facilities, public hygiene is very poor and there are no screening procedures in place for visitors, or Indians returning, from South America. There is still time as no known case of Zika has been reported till now. The government should have systems in place as prevention will save a lot of problems later.