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Health authorities in Kerala have declared a state of alert in all districts after identifying 14 cases of Zika virus.

Among the infected was a 24-year-old pregnant woman who was diagnosed with the mosquito-transmitted disease on Thursday.

Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.

India reported a Zika outbreak in the western state of Gujarat in 2016-17.

Zika infections have been linked to incidences of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous system disorder caused by a person’s own immune system attacking nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis.

About Zika virus:

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. It and can also be sexually transmitted.

Zika virus symptoms:

Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms like fever and rashes.

The biggest danger from the Zika virus is to pregnant women and their foetuses. Zika infections in pregnant women can lead to congenital defects in in their newborns such as microcephaly, in which the brain of the infant is small and underdeveloped.

Zika virus prevention:

Aedes mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.

For source reduction of mosquito breeding, it is important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places, where mosquitoes can breed, are removed. During outbreaks, spraying of insecticides should be carried out.

Zika virus treatment

Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with paracetamol. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.

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