Zika Virus | 07 Nov 2023

Source: HT

Why in News?

Recently, the Karnataka State Health Department issued an alert following Zika virus detection in mosquito samples from Talakayalabetta, Chikkaballapura village.

  • The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, and its impacts on public health have been a matter of significant concern.

What is Zika Virus?

  • About: The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, that is primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti.
    • Also, it can also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy, as well as through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products.
    • The Zika virus has an RNA genome, and thus a very high potential to accumulate mutations.
      • Genomic studies have suggested that the Zika virus has two lineages: African and Asian.
  • History: Discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda from infected monkeys, the first human cases were recorded in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.
    • Outbreaks have occurred across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific since 2007.
    • Notable outbreaks have occurred in Indian states like Kerala and Karnataka in recent years.
  • Symptoms: Often asymptomatic; when present, common symptoms include fever, joint pain, muscle pain, and headache lasting 2-7 days.
  • Association with Other Conditions: Linked with Guillain-Barre syndrome, neuropathy, and myelitis in adults and children.
    • Also, the interaction between Zika and dengue viruses significantly impacts disease severity.
    • Exposure to one can worsen the impact of the other, posing challenges in vaccine development and public health management.
  • Complications: Infection during pregnancy causes congenital malformations, such as microcephaly and other associated conditions.


Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system. The syndrome affects the nerves responsible for muscle movement, pain, temperature, and touch sensations.

  • Microcephaly is a birth defect in which babies are born with a smaller than usual head and underdeveloped brain
  • Treatment and Prevention: No specific treatment available. Symptomatic relief and medical care advised for worsening conditions.
    • No vaccine available yet; prevention focused on mosquito bite protection, eliminating breeding sites, and public health initiatives to control mosquito populations.
  • Related Indian Government Initiatives:
    • National Guidelines for Zika Virus Disease under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme
    • Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK): It aims to improve the quality of life of children and provide comprehensive care to all children in the community.
      • RBSK involves screening of children from birth to 18 years of age for four Ds:
        • Defects at birth
        • Deficiencies
        • Diseases
        • Development delays including disability

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question:


Consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. In tropical regions, Zika virus disease is transmitted by the same mosquito that transmits dengue.
  2. Sexual transmission of Zika virus disease is possible.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (c)