Intoducation The article talks about the low risk of spread of Zika virus during Olympics but precautions needed due to its various modes of transmission.
- The World Health Organisation has confirmed that the Olympic Games scheduled to be held in August in Rio de Janeiro will go ahead, the Zika virus notwithstanding.
- An Emergency Committee meeting convened by the WHO Director-General said there is “very low risk” of the virus spreading globally as a consequence of the Games being held in Brazil.
- The local mosquito population level is expected to drop sharply in August, the Brazilian mid-winter, and the annual infection rate is expected to peak before that.
- Intensive vector-control measures at and around the venue will reduce transmission risks.
- It is possible that a few individuals may get infected and contribute to a global spread and start off a new chain of local transmission.
- But the risk will be the same as in any country where the local transmission of the Zika virus is ongoing; it does not get amplified even when thousands come together.
- The WHO, however, has stressed that pregnant women should refrain from travelling to Brazil and other countries where the virus is circulating.
- The onus is now on Brazil to ensure that mosquito-control measures are intensified, surveillance is enhanced, and as required by the WHO, to make all information public about the virus circulation, surveillance and vector-control measures.
- Modes of spread:
- The first case of Zika virus infection through needlestick injury suggests that it is likely to be as infectious as HIV.
- While the virus primarily spreads through infected Aedes mosquitoes, through blood, and from mother to foetus (vertical transmission), several studies have confirmed a sexual route.
- While the Zika virus has been detected in saliva, urine and breast milk, there is no evidence yet of its transmission through these body fluids.
- But in the case of semen, the viral load has been found to be 100,000 times more than in both blood and urine even two weeks after the onset of symptoms.
- As the landscape of Zika transmission is evolving, there is a critical need to exercise caution. More so as the Aedes aegypti is widely prevalent in India and the chances of the virus becoming endemic are high.
Question : An Emergency Committee meeting convened by the WHO Director-General said there is “very low risk” of the Zika virus spreading globally as a consequence of the Games being held in Brazil. But as the landscape of Zika transmission is evolving, there is a critical need to exercise caution. Discuss.
- Why there is low risk of spread of Zika virus during games.
- Different modes of transmission of this virus.
- Precautions needed to be taken.