India has reported its first three cases of Zika virus in Gujarat but the government has said that there is no need to panic about it. But India must really be aware and take care to stay safe. Here is all you need to know about Zika virus and what should be done to avoid it.

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease which is spread by daytime active Aedes mosquitoes which rely on blood for breeding and harbour in clean water resources. The symptoms of this virus are similar to other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria which range from mild fever, muscle fatigue, skin rashes, conjunctivitis and head and body ache. Anyone bitten by Aedes mosquito can get infected by Zika virus but the scariest threat of Zika is that if a pregnant woman is infected, it can cause devastating birth defect called microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that have not developed properly.

The infection in new-born baby can lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome which is a rare neurological disorder which affects body’s immune system and corrupt the nervous system which may even cause paralysis. Other birth defects and risks include blindness, deafness and even seizures. And the dreadful part is, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika infection yet. So the only solution is precaution.

Here is how you can avoid the virus – check mosquito breeding in and around your house. Since Zika mosquito breeds in fresh and clean water, don’t let stagnant water collect in and near you. Avoid birdbaths, planters, non-used open bottles, discarded watery waste, tyres which can accumulate water and containers. Despite these care, mosquitoes can still breed in hidden places so what next?

Avoid mosquito bites – use mosquito repellents like creams, gels, electronic mosquito repellents, patches, incense sticks and bed nets. Plants like citronella, basil, lemon grass, lavender, mint and rosemary are known for being mosquito repellent and you can grow these small plants around your homes. And finally, try to cover yourselves with thick-enough clothes and cover most part of your body.

As per few reports, one case of possible spread of Zika can be due to person-to-person sexual transmission. But as per Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), more evidences are required to confirm whether sexual contact is a means of Zika transmission. The virus could be a serious national health issue, but as per the reports and statements of Health ministry of Gujarat, the three Zika cases reported including a 64-year-old man, a 34-year-old new mother and a 22-year-old pregnant woman have now recovered and the government is considering robust and intrinsic campaigning against the dreadful virus.