Lesson 74: Zika (Level 2+)

Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and is not harmful. However, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there is evidence that it causes birth defects– in particular, abnormally small heads and severe brain damage.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda, Africa.

The first case of Zika was detected in 1952, and since then outbreak shave been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Before 2007, at least 14 cases of Zika had been documented, although other cases were likely to have occurred and were not reported.

Because the symptoms of Zika are similar to those of many other diseases like dengue and chikungunya, many cases may not have been recognised.

The most common symptoms of Zika are

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pain

Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to hospital. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are unlikely to get infected again.

Zika can be transmitted

  • Through mosquito bites
  • From a pregnant woman to her foetus
  • Through sex
  • Through blood transfusion (very likely but not confirmed)

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

A) Vocabulary

Make your own sentences with the following words. Please make sure that the sentences show that you understand the meaning of the word.

Mild – not very strong or serious
Evidence – proof
Defect – something that is not perfect or lacking in some form
Abnormal – something that is not normal or usual
Severe – very great or intense
Detect – to find
Outbreak – a sudden occurrence of something unwelcome
Tropical – relating to climate that is very hot and humid
Document – record
Symptom – physical or mental indications of a condition
Transmit – passed on from one person or place to another
Foetus – unborn baby
Transfusion – the act of transferring blood or other fluid into the circulatory system of humans or animals
Vaccine – a substance used to provide immunity against a disease

B) Discussion Points
Look up the Internet and answer the following questions:

  1. List 5 countries which recently reported cases of Zika.
  2. In which cities of India has Zika been detected?
  3. List some ways to prevent Zika.
  4. Read about the causes and symptoms of dengue and chikungunya.
  5. Write a short paragraph on how you can keep your surroundings clean to avoid mosquito borne diseases.
  6. Have you or any of your family members ever suffered from dengue or chikunguniya? What were your/ their symptoms?