By Suryansh Upmanyu
Judge: Good morning, earthlings. Calling the case of the Humans of Earth versus the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Are both sides ready?
World Attorney: Ready for the Humans, Your Honour.
Public Defender: Ready for the defense, Your Honour.
Judge: I will start by describing the case of the convict. Aedes aegypti has been accused of being the reason behind the deadly Zika epidemic. The outbreak of the virus was first seen in Brazil last year which has now rapidly spread to other countries around the world. Does the convict plead guilty?
Aedes: Not guilty, Your Honour.
Judge: The convict pleads not guilty. I will now ask the World Attorney to state his case.
World Attorney: Thank you, Your Honour. I will take this opportunity to state the facts and nothing more.
The Zika virus came into the headlines in December 2015 when Brazil declared a state of emergency. Over 4000 babies born during that time period had been diagnosed with primary microcephaly, a symptom seen as a direct effect of pregnant women infected with the virus transmitting it to their offsprings.
Primary microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born abnormally small brains. A baby with this disease can have significant brain damage. No treatment for this disease is available yet.
Aedes spreads the virus to others through its bite after it feeds on a person infected with the virus. WHO has already declared a global emergency and many experts have asked people – especially pregnant women – to reconsider travelling to the affected regions.
Judge: Thank you, Mr. World Attorney. I will now call upon the public defender to plead his case.
Public Defender: Thank You, Your Honour. As Mr. World Attorney himself said, I shall limit myself to the facts:
1. Even though millions may be affected, most of them might not see any symptoms or any lasting harm during the period of infection.
2. The incubation period for the virus (time from exposure to symptoms) ranges from a few days to a week. Symptoms include fever, rashes, joint pain, conjunctivitis and headaches.
3. Deaths due to the virus are rare.
4. Once a person is infected with the virus, he is likely to be immune from further infections in the future.
These are the facts, Your Honour. Experts have asked people not to panic. To prove my point, I have brought an eminent researcher, Dr. Kenneth Anderson, with me as a witness. Could Your Honour allow him to speak as well?
Judge: Dr. Anderson: Thank You, Your Honour.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES AND CURES:
Humans of Earth, the facts stand like this. Yes, there is no vaccine or medicine available presently to cure the disease. Yes, the virus is spreading at an alarming rate. But the preventive measures are really simple. Here they go:
1. Wear pants and full sleeve shirts
2. Keep the doors and windows in your room closed
3. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents
4. Use a mosquito net to cover your bed with while sleeping
If someone has been diagnosed with the disease, they can follow the given steps to treat the symptoms:
1. Get plenty of rest
2. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids
3. Take medicines such as paracetamol to reduce fever
As you can see, Your Honour, the given steps are quite easy to follow and can easily prevent the disease from spreading further.
Judge: Thank you, doctor. I would now give Aedes Aegypti an opportunity to say something in its defense. Do you have something to say?
Aedes: Your Honour, when I said I wasn’t guilty, I meant it. I do what I need to survive. And that means, feeding on humans. It is in my very nature to suck people dry. And I will keep doing it for the sake of my existence.
Judge: Thank you, Aedes. I will now deliver my judgment.
The court sentences Aedes Aegypti to life-imprisonment. It has caused irreparable harm to many families and has spread terror all across the world. But the issue doesn’t end here. After listening to the arguments from both sides today, I can definitely say that humans do have the resources and the ability to take care of this problem.
Eradication of the Zika virus lies in your own hands, humans. What you do now is entirely up to you.
The court is now adjourned.
Sources: www.nytimes.com, www.cdc.gov, www.paho.org, www.huffingtonpost.com, www.nhs.uk, www.who.int