Zika virus outbreak in Rajasthan: 29 people test positive for disease in Jaipur; health ministry says 'everything under control'

The health ministry on Tuesday appealed to people not to panic and assured them that the Zika outbreak was under control after 29 people were tested positive for the disease in Rajasthan's Jaipur.

According to a health ministry official, 29 people have so far been tested positive for the disease in Rajasthan. There was no need to panic and everything was under control, the ministry said.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has sought a comprehensive report from the health ministry on the outbreak of Zika virus after 29 people were tested positive for the infection in Rajasthan's Jaipur. "The PMO has sought a comprehensive report on the Zika virus outbreak in Jaipur," a senior health ministry official said.

As one of those affected in Jaipur hails from Bihar and visited his Siwan home recently, the eastern state has issued advisories to all its 38 districts to keep a close watch on people showing symptoms similar to Zika virus infection. Bihar government has issued an alert across the state.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Siwan resident, who studies in Jaipur, visited home between 28 August and 12 September to appear for an exam. His family members have been put under surveillance.

A seven-member high-level Central team is in Jaipur to assist the state government in the control and containment measures while a control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to undertake regular monitoring of the situation.  The situation is being reviewed by Health Minister JP Nadda.

"Till date a total of 22 positive laboratory-confirmed cases have been detected. A control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to undertake regular monitoring of the situation," a health ministry statement had said on Monday.

All suspected cases in the defined area of Jaipur and mosquito samples from this area are being tested. Additional testing kits are provided to viral research and diagnostic laboratories.

All pregnant mothers in the area are being monitored through extensive surveillance and vector-control measures are being taken up in the area as per protocol by the state government, the official said.

What is the Zika virus disease?

The Rajasthan government has been supplied with information, education, and communication (IEC) material prepared to create awareness about Zika virus and its prevention strategies.

Zika virus disease is caused by a type of mosquitoe that mostly bite during the day. The Aedes mosquitoe, which is the same that transmit dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever, carry the virus which is transmitted through the bite.

The virus was first identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

The last outbreak recorded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was in Brazil in October 2015. To date, a total of 86 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-transmitted Zika infection.

In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January and February 2017 and second outbreak in July 2017 from Krishnagiri District in Tamil Nadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management, the ministry said.

According to PTI, a study has found that viruses like Zika target the nervous system in the brain and spinal cord, and can also disrupt bowel movement and cause intestinal blockages.

While studying viruses best known for infecting the brain, researchers at Washington University in the US stumbled upon clues to why some people possibly develop digestive problems seemingly out of the blue.

The findings, published in the journal Cell, potentially could explain why some people experience recurrent, unpredictable bouts of abdominal pain and constipation -- and perhaps point to a new strategy for preventing such conditions.

There is no treatment available for Zika virus infection or its associated diseases.

Symptoms of the disease

The symptoms of the disease are usually mild and are evident after an incubation period of 3 to 14 days. Symptoms of Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. The symptoms are likely to last for around 2 to 7 days.

According to WHO, "Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome. Infection with Zika virus is also associated with other complications of pregnancy including preterm birth and miscarriage. An increased risk of neurologic complications is associated with Zika virus infection in adults and children, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis."

Transmission of the disease

A real risk of transmission is from the mother to fetus during pregnancy. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact, transfusion of blood and blood products, and organ transplantation.

The disease continues to be on surveillance radars of the Union health ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under WHO notification since 18 November, 2016.

With inputs from agencies

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Oct 09, 2018 16:31 PM

Also See