oppn parties Zika Virus, Microcephaly and India

News Snippets

  • Amit Shah says the government will identify and deport illegal immigrants from all parts of the country
  • Reports from Pakistan confirm that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested and sent to jail
  • After the SC order, Karnataka Speaker says he will go by the Constitution in deciding on the resignations of the 16 MLAs
  • Rebel MLAs say they will not attend the trust vote on Thursday
  • Supreme Court rules that rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the assembly and vote in the floor test
  • Both the Centre and the Assam government have sought re-verification of up to 20% of draft NRC data
  • Pakistan opens its airspace for Indian planes
  • Dilapidated building collapses in Mumbai, killing more than 10 people while many were still trapped
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav case verdict to be delivered today by the ICJ
  • A Vistara flight landed in Lucknow with just 5 to 10 minutes of fuel left in the tank
  • Supreme Court to decide on Karnataka MLAs plea today
  • Karnataka alliance to face floor test on Thursday
  • China says that the next Dalai Lama will be appointed by it
  • Pakistan assures India that no anti-India activity would be allowed in the Kartarpur corridor
  • Pakistan to allow visa-free access to 5000 pilgrims every day to undertake pilgrimage using the Kartarpur corridor
ISRO calls-off Chandrayaan-2 mission launch at last moment due to technical snags. revised date will be announced later
oppn parties
Zika Virus, Microcephaly and India

By Sunil Garodia

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.