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Rohan Ali |

The Human capital is the main asset of a nation, if in any case, it suffers from mental or physical health issues which are incurable, from the time of birth, it would be devastating not only for country’s economy but also for its survival.

As Virus causes birth defects in the babies born to infected pregnant women, including microcephaly, where babies are born with under-developed heads and brain damage, leaving the child to mental retardation and physical abnormalities, so if Zika outbreak occurs in Pakistan, it would be a serious threat to the health of our future generations.

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Where Zika Virus first emerges? And it’s current Outbreaks?

The virus was first isolated in April 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey that had been placed in a cage in the Zika Forest of Uganda, by the scientists of the Yellow Fever Research Institute. While in 1952, the first human cases were reported in Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.

According to CDC (Centre for Disease Control), Zika is already epidemic in most of the areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Central America and South America, but Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are the countries that are categorized as areas with Zika Risk.

Since the 1950s, it has been known to spread to Africa and Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the American continent, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.

According to CDC (Centre for Disease Control), Zika is already epidemic in most of the areas of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Central America and South America, but Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh are the countries that are categorized as areas with Zika Risk.

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 How is Zika Virus transmitted?

The Zika Virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, the same type that carries dengue fever. Zika can also spread through sex, from a person who traveled to an area where Zika has broken out, to a sex partner who did not travel.

What are the symptoms of Zika Disease and its possible treatment?

The disease can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the whites of the eye (conjunctivitis). But most of the patients lack any noticeable symptoms of the disease.

There’s no treatment and no vaccine available against Zika Virus, but most people with symptoms can be given medications for aches and pains. The disease usually runs its course within a week or so.

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Zika reaches neighboring countries

W.H.O said that, on May 15 of this year, India’s health ministry reported three confirmed cases of Zika Virus from the western state of Gujarat near the border of Sindh province of Pakistan.

These findings suggest low-level transmission of Zika Virus in South-East Asia Region and new cases that emerge in the future, may occur in Pakistan.

China has also confirmed its first case of Zika Virus in February 2017. And by September 5, 22 more cases were reported in China and all the patients had recovered.

These findings suggest low-level transmission of Zika Virus in South-East Asia Region and new cases that emerge in the future, may occur in Pakistan.

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Dengue mosquitos are Zika Vehicles in Pakistan

The Mosquitoes carrying the Zika Virus have been found in Pakistan, warned by, Dr. Muhammad Najeeb Durrani, one of the members of GOARN (Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network). And recent outbreaks of Zika have been already reported, in the neighboring countries (China and India), near the border of Pakistan.

So it is most likely that the Zika may appear in the areas of Sindh near the western state of Gujarat, as the Virus Vehicle is already present throughout the country.

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Public health measures

The health sector should be kept on high alert and urged to devise a strategy for possible appearance and spread of Zika Virus throughout the country. The preventive approach may include;

  • Development or up gradation of labs for screening of the Virus
  • Surveillance of disease at the border areas, i.e.; disease real-time monitoring
  • Strict vigilance of person who traveled areas where Zika is recently out broken
  • Public awareness campaigns about vector control and disease
  • Initiation of extensive vector control programs
In the case of Zika, “Prevention is better than treatment”

As there is no treatment and vaccine available for the Zika disease, so the best measures are the preventive steps, taken to avoid infection.

People who have traveled to affected regions should be taken under extreme vigilance against Zika Virus when they return. Safe sex measures should be taken to prevent sexual transmission of Zika Virus.

People should avoid mosquito bites by using repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, indoors and out. Use screens on windows and doors. Get rid of standing water — in tires, buckets, planters, and flower pots, as mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

People who have traveled to affected regions should be taken under extreme vigilance against Zika Virus when they return. Safe sex measures should be taken to prevent sexual transmission of Zika Virus.

Conclusion

As mosquitoes carrying Zika Virus are already present in our environment and recent outbreaks regarding Virus have been reported near border areas in neighboring countries, it is most likely that same outbreak may occur in Pakistan.

So, the immediate strategy regarding the surveillance, screening, and containment of Zika, must be devised by the government to curtail the possible spread of Zika Virus throughout the country as the matter is related to health issues of the future generation.

Rohan Ali is a student of Microbiology. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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