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Advisory issued in India amid rising cases of Zika virus

Locations affected: India

What:

The Union Health Ministry of India issued an advisory for the Zika virus amid rising cases. As of 02nd July, 8 cases have been identified in Maharashtra, with six people infected in Pune and one each in Ahmednagar and Kolhapur. 

Why:

Zika is a non-fatal viral disease transmitted primarily through the Aedes mosquito. The virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or around the time of birth, sexual intercourse with an infected person, and quite rarely through blood transfusion. The virus is of significant concern as it is associated with congenital defects like microcephaly in babies born to pregnant women infected with the virus. Microcephaly is a condition where the infant’s brain is small and underdeveloped. The first case of Zika virus in India was reported in Gujarat in 2016. Monsoon season, which occurs during June-September in India, can result in puddles that become ideal breeding grounds for mosquitos, increasing the risk of infection.

So What:

  • Symptoms of the infection include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, malaise, headache, and muscle pain. Most individuals infected with the virus have no symptoms.
  • The advisory by the Union Ministry urges constant vigil through screening of pregnant women for Zika virus infection and monitoring the growth of foetuses of expecting mothers who tested positive. Health facilities and hospitals have been directed to identify a nodal officer to monitor and keep the premises clear of Aedes mosquitoes.
  • States are urged to strengthen entomological surveillance and intensify vector control activities in residential areas, workplaces, schools, construction sites, and health facilities.
  • The Pune Municipal Corporation’s health department has increased surveillance and has undertaken precautionary measures like fogging and fumigation to curb the breeding of mosquitoes.
  • The Kerala government has declared a state of alert in all districts after 14 cases were identified. The public health department of Tamil Nadu has also urged increased vigilance.

Outlook:

The rising cases of Zika virus have increased surveillance throughout the country. It is important to focus on the prevention and control of the disease by eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes, like stagnant water sources, and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. Organizations are advised to remain abreast of the situation and the advisories issued by the authorities. The advisory by the Union Health Ministry can be found at https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=2030371

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