"The Secret Life of Zika Virus" | The Zika phenomenon

Price:   299 |  12 Aug 2017 2:00 PM GMT  |  Ananya Das

The Zika phenomenon

There are more than 320,00 and counting viruses in the world, and among all, Zika virus has become one of the most dangerous ones for reasons that are quite simple – it severely affects pregnant women and more importantly, their unborn children. The virus is ruthless, smart and is outdoing every scientist that is attempting to figure out a treatment plan for the affected. The Secret Life of Zika captures the very essence of what it is like to be in an unchartered territory and what it can possibly do to the likes of people who have no idea of what this virus could bring with it. The book explains intelligibly just exactly what we should be afraid of and where does this virus leave us be in 2017.  

This book explains that viruses in general were discovered by fluke in a tobacco factory in Netherlands and then the rest was mere history. Years of studying a virus and its types, scientists came to a stark conclusion that viruses were different from bacteria. That sounds rather simple and self explanatory until as the authors of the book have explained beautifully, the doctors of science discover that viruses can infect the same bacteria under test. This was the discovery that shifted the sun from East and spun across the seven oceans for the virologists who were studying ‘viruses’. The book states that this discovery “led to much excitement and opened up an even greater adventure. Bacteria could be grown easily, and now, if they could be infected with viruses, viruses could be cultured in labs, too.”

The authors of the book – Ishrad Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan skilfully write about their own experiences from childhood in order to make a more personal and bold statement altogether. It forces the reader to go into a deep trench of retrospection and wonder if they too could have seen signs of this virus growing rapidly around them. Providing an in-depth knowledge about the Zika virus, the authors explain to readers the different types of carriers of the virus. One of them being the Aedes aegypti and in the book has been regarded as the ‘poster bug’ for transmitting diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue, Yellow-Fever and Zika.

The wordsmiths of the book stated that “Zika virus’ spread shows an increasingly menacing profile”. The book crafts a time machine that takes the reader through the history of how these vectors were introduced to the lands we live in now and what effect it could have on us right this second. They map their way through Cuba and Uganda – where the Zika virus was first isolated. The reader does not get waivered for even a second and stays on track for the entire read.

The book also talks of the grim tragedies women have gone through as they lose their unborn children. It is an ineffable pain that the virus causes these young to-be mothers. Pregnant women who do carry this virus onto their children risk giving them Microcephaly – a rare disease where the child presents with abnormal smallness of head due to inconsistent growth of the brain. The virus shows ‘innate selfishness’ as stated by the authors and creates unprecedented consequences that severely affects the mothers and the children both mentally and physically.

It is an engrossing read in which the authors try to present a sense of urgency regarding this virus that has created a situation of chaos all over the world. This book is a valiant attempt at answering one of the toughest questions we might have regarding Zika and it repeatedly mentions – it just isn’t enough.

The book marvellously confirms, “The Zika phenomenon is nothing less than a planetary alarm”. 

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