“To die, it’s easy. But you have to struggle for life.”
— Art Spiegelman
From Maus, I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds
I went through all the pictures on my gallery, pondered for about fifteen minutes about the pictures which are appropriate for this particular post and decided there were none.
Today, I heard some strangers talking about the Zika virus which is spreading in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela at an alarming rate. One of them suddenly asked, “How did this originate? Why now?”
Her question was pertinent. I knew a little about the widespread of Zika Virus and its origin. I knew it was found in the previous year in the month of November when there was a sudden surge in babies born with microcephaly – an incurable birth defect (they are born with abnormally small heads).
The scientists expect that by the end of the year there will be 1.5 million people infected with the Zika Virus. The Brazilian scientists reported that the Virus can spread to other countries too. The Brazilian Government advised women to delay pregnancy till the virus is under control and vaccines are found.
The virus gets its name from the Zika forest in Uganda, Africa, where it was first identified in rhesus monkeys in 1947. It was reported in humans in 1952 but was unknown in the Americas until last year. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also responsible for the spread of dengue and chikungunya.
The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms include experiencing muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting.
There is still no vaccine or medicine for the virus. Doctors advice is fluid intake as much as possible, fever medication and bed rest.
Hopefully, the scientists will come with some medicines by the end of the year (we can pray). India needs to be particularly conscious about the spread of the disease since the mosquito that carries the virus actually thrives in the country. The hotter it gets, the easier it becomes for the mosquitoes to transmit the disease.
The guidelines provided by The Indian Express:
1. Prevent mosquito breeding around houses.
2. Use mosquito repellents to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
3. Non-essential travel to the affected countries in the Latin American region and the Caribbean should be deferred/cancelled.
4. Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/cancel their travel to the affected areas.
5. All travellers to the affected countries/areas should strictly follow individual protective measures, especially during the day, to prevent mosquito bites (use of mosquito repellant cream, electronic mosquito repellants, use of bed nets, and dress that appropriately covers most of the body parts).
6. Persons with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, immunity disorders, etc.) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country.
7. Travellers who complain of fever within two weeks of return from an affected country should report to the nearest health facility.
8. Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately.
“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and things we don’t want to deal with, hence, have to prevent.”