In the biggest recorded outbreak of the zika virus disease in India, 29 cases have been confirmed within 18 days in the Shastri Nagar neighbourhood of Jaipur, the state health department confirmed on Tuesday.
This takes the total number of confirmed zika cases in India to 30. The first confirmed case this year was in Tamil Nadu, reports Hindustan Times.
Among the confirmed cases are those of three pregnant women, but their unborn babies do not have zika, which has been associated severe birth defects, including microcephaly, a defect in which the baby’s head is smaller than average because of abnormal brain development.
“The three pregnant women who tested zika virus positive are safe as the risk to the foetus is during the first three months of pregnancy,” said Veenu Gupta, additional chief secretary, state health department. “One of the mothers has delivered her baby, the second will deliver in a day or two, and the third women is five months pregnant,” she said.
Zika is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads dengue and chikungunya. The virus also passes from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn baby, which can lead to birth defects. There is no vaccine for Zika, reports Hindustan Times.
The outbreak so far remains localised, according to the apex body for the control of communicable diseases. “The outbreak is localised, the numbers are still small, but it’s a cause for concern because India has never reported so many cases ,” said a senior official from National Centre for Disease Control,?New Delhi, who did not want to be identified.
The first patient was an 85-year-old woman admitted to Sawai Man Singh Hospital with symptoms of fever, body ache, joint pains and redness of eyes . After the National Institute of Virology of Pune confirmed the disease on September 21, door-to-door surveillance was conducted in 26,000 houses between September 22 and October 8, and 1,442 people and 1,118 pregnant women were identified with fever.
Samples of 450 people and 160 pregnant women with symptoms of zika were tested. The survey also identified 28,700 mosquito-breeding sites, of which 9,000 were destroyed.
“The state has already started taking prompt multidimensional action and the situation has also been reviewed in two high-level meetings. The department was following the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare microplan for containing local transmission of zika virus,” Gupta said.
The affected area has been divided into eight zones for active surveillance done by a team of subdivisional officers, doctors, vector-borne disease consultants and postgraduate doctors from preventive social medicine department .
“Health ministry experts are in the field, providing technical assistance to states to contain it as quickly as possible,” said the NCDC official.
The Union ministry of health and family welfare has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh for kits, Rs 46 lakh for insecticides and services of domestic-breeding checkers, and Rs 49 lakh for an information, education and communication (IEC) campaign. “Fogging is being done in the affected area and awareness campaigns are being run on radio, television and social media,” said Gupta.
Doctors in the government and private sector, including gynaecologists, paediatricians, general physicians and radiologists, were trained for early identification of zika symptoms at Kanwatia hospital in Shastri Nagar on Monday.