As the number of people infected with Zika virus rose to 100 in Rajasthan Wednesday, the Centre rushed an Indian Council of Medical Research team to the state to intensify vector control measures. Of the total affected people, 23 are pregnant women, said a health ministry official in Delhi, adding that the 20 new Zika cases confirmed Wednesday were from Jaipur and two neighbouring districts. “A team of experts from ICMR has reached Jaipur to change the insecticides which are being used in the city to kill mosquitoes that spread Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses as a part of the integrated mosquito management programme,” the official said.
Zika virus has been found in some mosquitoes taken as samples from Sindhi Camp and densely populated Shastri Nagar. Rajasthan additional chief secretary, medical and health, Veenu Gupta chaired a review meeting in Jaipur Wednesday and released updated figures of the infected cases. “Almost all Zika virus infected patients are healthy after treatment. Three-fourth patients do not have symptoms of disease and have recovered,” a state health department official said. Most of the Zika cases reported were from Shastri Nagar area, where fogging and other anti-larvae activities are being carried out.
The official said more than 1 lakh households have been surveyed in Shastri Nagar and neighbouring areas and 330 teams have been engaged to destroy mosquito larvae found during the survey. The Zika virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. It is harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, in newborn children.
The state health department has advised pregnant women not to visit the affected areas. In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in July that year. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
The disease is under surveillance of the Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under WHO notification since November 18, 2016. On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry directed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to monitor the cases on a daily basis and urged people not to panic. Health Minister J P Nadda chaired a high-level meeting to review the activities for prevention and control of Zika virus and stressed the need to undertake exhaustive control measures, including fogging, while strengthening surveillance to facilitate early detection of cases.
During the latest outbreak of the virus, the first case surfaced on September 22, when an 85-year-old woman with no recent travel history tested positive for the virus. The disease continues to be under surveillance of the Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under WHO notification since November 18, 2016.