After three cases of Zika virus in Gujarat, government says 'there's no reason to worry'

Gandhinagar: Even as the WHO has confirmed India's first three cases of Zika virus in Gujarat, the state government on Sunday said there is "no reason to worry" since effective measures were being taken.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had confirmed that three persons, including a pregnant woman, were infected in Ahmedabad city by the mosquito-borne virus.

"There is no epidemic situation. The three cases are isolated ones. All the patients have recovered and are in good condition," Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh said at a hurriedly convened press conference here.

A microscopic image of the Zika virus. AP

A microscopic image of the Zika virus. AP

He claimed 1.25 lakh blood samples had been drawn to check for the virus.

The cases were reported from the industrial suburb of Bapunagar area in Ahmedabad. The patients were a 64-year-old man, a 34-year-old new mother and a 22-year-old pregnant woman.

The first infection was detected in February last year and then in November. The latest case came to light in January this year.

According to the WHO, there have been no new cases of the non-fatal disease.

The senior bureaucrat, however, parried questions on why the Gujarat government did not issue a public alert despite WHO guidelines when the cases came to light.

He maintained there was no reason to worry and that there was no epidemic situation.

The WHO has called the findings as "low-level transmission" but it has issued a warning that new cases linked to babies born with underdeveloped brains could occur in the future.

Though the Gujarat government maintains thousands of samples have been collected, the UN health agency said the cases were reported during random monitoring and surveillance at the BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad.

The Zika virus is transmitted by aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.

In pregnant women, Zika can cause birth defects such as microcephaly — unusually small heads — and other brain abnormalities in babies in the womb.

The infection can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection.

The virus can show symptoms such as mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. But only about 20 per cent of patients show symptoms that usually last up to a week.

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

The central government has shared with states an action plan to prevent an outbreak of Zika. A team of officials has been put together to monitor the situation.

The Indian Council of Medical Research has so far tested 34,233 samples for Zika.


Updated Date: May 29, 2017 07:10 AM

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