Wednesday, 28 June, 2017

No action from government on Zika virus, says Ahmed Patel

A worker fogs the common area of a public housing estate at a new Zika cluster in Singapore A worker fogs the common area of a public housing estate at a new Zika cluster in Singapore
Connie Andrews | 29 May, 2017, 05:08

The threat of Zika virus is now active in India, as the World Health Organization has confirmed three cases of Zika infection in Ahmedabad district, Gujarat. This was the first Zika case that was reported.

At a press meet, state chief secretary J N Singh said the first positive case was reported in November 2016 and not in February 2016, as stated by WHO. The patients were a 64-year-old man, a 34-year-old new mother and a 22-year-old pregnant woman. Airport health officers along with the officials from the National Centre for Disease Control and the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme are monitoring appropriate vector control measures at airports.

The virus is particularly deadly while it affects pregnant women (who are known to be an easy target to Zika) and, it can lead to severe issues with the unborn baby - including, issues with brain development and microcephaly.

Earlier on Saturday, Indian Council of Medical Research head also maintained that all three people infected with Zika virus in Ahmedabad were successfully treated. The symptoms mimic that of dengue, with mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pains and headache.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Sunday alleged lack of action from government side after three positive cases of Zika virus were detected in Ahmedabad. The woman had no history of fever during pregnancy and had no history of travel for three months. "The cases are reported below in chronological order", the report read.

As standard protocol, the Union Health Ministry had informed the WHO about the cases on May 15.

In January of 2017, 111 blood samples were gathered and tested during an Antenatal Clinic surveillance at BJMC.

The government said 300 Aedes mosquitoes were collected and sent for testing at NIV, Pune and NIMR Delhi, which were found to be negative for Zika virus as well as for other mosquito caused diseases.

According to the medical journal Lancet, 2.6 billion people living in parts of Asia and Africa could be at risk of contracting the Zika virus.

The WHO had a year ago declared Zika as a public health emergency after South American countries reported babies with microcephaly, a brain malformation marked by low head circumference, born to pregnant women known to have been infected with Zika.

Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. The mosquito that carries Zika virus - Aedes aegypti - breeds in fresh water so don't let water collect in birdbaths, planters, non-used bottles, containers, discarded waste, tyres etc. During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. However, it can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby.

Set up protective mesh screens in your doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

However, the agency did not recommend any curbs on travel to India.

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