The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya. Two cases have been reported so far in Pune where the infection was reported in a 46-year-old doctor from Erandwane and his 15-year-old daughter. Did you know a majority of those infected with Zika either remain asymptomatic (up to 80%) or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body aches and joint pains?

Two Zika virus cases reported in Pune: Health experts warn of long-term infection risks (ANI Photo)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Jinendra Jain, consultant physician at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai’s Mira Road, shared, “The Zika virus has emerged as a global health concern in recent years. While the immediate symptoms of Zika infection may be relatively mild, the long-term effects of the virus are now becoming more apparent, particularly in relation to pregnancy and child development.”

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Mitigating the Long-Term Impacts of Zika Virus:

One of the most significant long-term consequences of Zika virus infection is the potential for congenital abnormalities in babies born to infected mothers. Dr Jinendra Jain explained, “The virus has been linked to a severe birth defect called microcephaly, characterised by an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brain. Children with microcephaly may face lifelong challenges, including developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and neurological problems. Additionally, recent studies have suggested that the Zika virus may have long-term effects on the cognitive and motor skills of children born to infected mothers, even in the absence of microcephaly.”

He elaborated, “These children may experience difficulties with language development, learning, and coordination, highlighting the need for comprehensive and ongoing medical care and support. As the scientific community continues to investigate the long-term implications of Zika virus infection, it is crucial for individuals, especially those planning a pregnancy, to stay informed and follow the guidance of public health authorities. Preventive measures, early detection, and access to appropriate medical services can play a vital role in mitigating the potential long-term impacts of this emerging global health challenge.”

Neurological Complications from Zika Virus: A Serious Concern

Dr Sachin Nalavade, senior consultant physician, diabetologist and intensivist at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, added, “The Zika virus is known to cause neurological complications such as Guillain-Barré syndrome which can be life-threatening and other autoimmune disorders. If a woman is pregnant then the Zika virus can raise the chances of congenital (present at birth) conditions in the baby, such as vision loss or improper brain development. Zika virus will also lead to microcephaly where the baby’s head is smaller than expected as compared to the baby’s age. Pregnant women need to take utmost care and prevent the infection of this virus. So, take charge of your health and you will surely be able to keep the Zika virus at bay.”