Zika virus alarm
With only six months to go for the Rio Olympics from August 5, host tion Brazil has issued an unprecedented warning. Pregnt women have been warned to stay away from the Games after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an intertiol emergency over the Zika virus. Carried by the Aedes mosquito, this virus has been blamed for causing Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which the immune system attacks the patient’s nervous system, causing weakness and sometimes paralysis. But the frightening aspect of the Zika virus is what it is suspected to inflict upon pregnt women. Ever since the virus became a scourge in Brazil last year, its health authority has noticed a surge in cases of microcephaly - a condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain. About 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly have been detected in Brazil, of which 270 have been confirmed. First detected in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus was not known to have this terrible effect; it is therefore an old foe in a newer, deadly avatar. By the end of this year, it is feared that up to four million people across the Americas will be affected. Countries like Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Puerto Rico have gone to the extent of warning women not to get pregnt. While Brazil has estimated a vaccine to Zika virus to be 3-5 years away, there is hopeful news from some Indian pharma companies like Lal PathLabs, SRL Diagnostics, Quest Diagnostics and Star Imaging. Their officials have recently expressed confidence that Zika virus detection kits will be out in the country by March and will cost around Rs 4,500. As of now, no known cases of Zika has been detected in the country, but the Central government has issued an advisory asking expectant women to avoid travelling to affected countries, particularly those in Latin America.