Zika Virus in India: First cases confirmed in Ahmedabad

The World Health organisation (WHO) on Saturday released a statement confirming  the first cases of mosquito-borne Zika Virus in India with, three people, including a pregnant woman, reporting the infection in Ahmedabad. All three cases were reported from Bapunagar area of the city.

Zika Virus

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda.  In India, the Zika virus–which has no cure or vaccine–was first found in Pune 64 years ago, as part of a survey that was testing immunity to Japanese and Russian varieties of a virus-borne brain infection called encephalitis.

Transmission:

  • The virus is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
  • Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon/evening.
  • Other modes of transmission such as blood transfusion are being investigated.

Infection Symptoms:

  • An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms.
  • People infected with Zika may have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue that can last for 2 to 7 days.

Diagnosis:

  • A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.
  • The recent cases of Zika virus disease were identified through RT-PCR test at B J Medical College (BJMC) in Ahmedabad.

Vaccine & Treatment:

  • Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment.
  • People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice.
  • There is no treatment or vaccine available for Zika infection.
  • The World Health Organisation has said no vaccine is likely to be available until 2020.

How dangerous is Zika Virus:

  • Zika erupted on a large scale in mid-2015 and has infected more than 1.5 million people till now. Some 70 countries have been impacted with Brazil and other countries in South America being the most infected.
  • The virus has been linked to a devastating birth defect called microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that have not been developed properly.
  • In addition, Zika infection in children and adults can trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis.

Steps taken by Government for control & identification of Zika virus:

  • Efforts to control the spread of the virus include eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets.
  • In addition to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, 25 laboratories have also been strengthened by Indian Council of Medical Research for laboratory diagnosis.
  • Three entomological laboratories are also conducting Zika virus testing on mosquito samples.