ZIKA VIRUS: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT
The world has seen countless epidemics with the last one being Ebola virus and now, a new virus named Zika has hit Brazil affecting thousands of babies. The virus has been spreading like wildfire and per the research of World Health Organization (WHO) it is believed that the virus can infect at least 3-4 million people across Americas which includes 1.5 million in Brazil itself. The virus has resulted in birth defects and mainly affects the neurological system of the body that includes brain and spinal cord.
Director-General Margaret Chan had a discussion with the executive board of the WHO that the disease caused due to mosquitos was initially considered to be a mild threat, but now it has reached alarming proportions which requires thorough assessment. With the infestation of mosquitoes in Brazil, the possibility of the spreading of virus is ample and this has alarmed officials of World Health Organization. Since there is no vaccination process for Zika virus, hence Brazilian authorities and members of World Health Organization are in the process of exterminating the areas around the country that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
There are babies suffering from microcephaly which has a direct impact on the brain and due to that, the vision also gets affected. This neurological disease has been linked to the outbreak of Zika virus. It is being told that the state of Recife, Brazil is worse among the others since it has been the centre of the outbreak. A large percentage of the babies born over the past one month have contracted the virus already and the count is increasing day-by-day. Till now, the microcephaly disease has mostly spread to parts of Brazil.
The country has strong laws against abortion and allows only those women to undergo the process that have either been subjected to sexual harassment, health-related problems or possibly anencephaly which happens to be another neurological condition that affects the brain of a new-born child. But over the past one month, the rapid outbreak of Zika virus has led to many people demanding decriminalization of abortion process. This is a concern that has affected CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) and they are urging pregnant women to refrain from visiting areas that have been affected by Zika virus. Furthermore, El Salvador, Brazil and Colombian authorities have urged women to engage in sexual intercourse only using contraceptives at least till the situation turns better. El Salvador went a step ahead and advised women to hold off for two years until the effects of Zika virus wears off. This has not gone down well with the women who are already pregnant and the ones who have been trying for a child for a very long time.
Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director of WHO has claimed that it would take at least a year for an effective vaccination process to be developed and also, there is a lot of research which needs to be done regarding the association of Zika virus and the birth defects.