Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus
Origin of Zika Virus:
Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
How does Zika Virus spread?
Zika virus spreads to people through daytime-active Aedes mosquito bite. However a rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex has been reported in Texas, USA
What are the Symptoms of being infected by Zika Virus?
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week
The infection has also been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains.
Zika Virus Outbreak History:
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes
Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
Public Health Emergency of International Concern:
The epicenter of the recentZika outbreak is in Brazil, but the virus has also spread to 27 other countries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the cluster of birth defects linked to Zika, a global public health emergency on 1st February 2016.
This declaration by WHO puts Zika in the same category of concern as Ebola outbreak that struck West African Countries in 2015
Prevention and Medication for Zika Virus Infection:
Currently, there is no vaccine or medication to stop Zika. The only way to avoid catching it is to avoid getting bitten by theAedes mosquitoes that transmit the infection
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has filed for global patent of two vaccine candidates – a recombinant vaccine and an inactivated vaccine – for Zika virus. The company announced that it could make available the inactivated vaccine in two years if the Indian Government fast-tracked the regulatory approvals once the pre-clinical trials proved to be successful. While the recombinant vaccine might take time, the pre-clinical testing of the inactivated vaccine in animals would be completed in five months.
Related GK Points:
Microcephaly: A birth defect that is associated with a small head and incomplete brain development in newborns
Guillain-Barré syndrome: A rapid-onsetmuscle weakness as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system
Headquarters of World Health Organisation (WHO): Geneva, Switzerland
Current Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO): Margaret Chan