WHO confirms 1st three cases of Zika virus in India

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The very first three cases of Zika virus in India have been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). All the three cases, including that of a pregnant woman have been reported from the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad.

* WHO stressed on strengthening surveillance to better characterise the intensity of the viral circulation and geographical spread and monitor Zika virus related complications.

* The risk of further spread of Zika virus to areas where the competent vectors, the aedes mosquitoes, are present is significant given the wide geographical distribution of these mosquitoes in various regions of the world.

About Zika Virus:

* A member of the genus Flavivirus, Zika virus is responsible for causing Zika fever. The virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes

* The illness is like a mild form of dengue fever and usually lasts from four to seven days. The sickness is treated only with bed-rest and cannot be prevented by drugs or vaccines

* In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island; while, it spread to South America, Central America and the Caribbean in 2015. It is now considered a pandemic

* The Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947

Steps to prevent Zika outbreak in the country:

  • As per the WHO statement, immediately after the cases were reported, the Health ministry had shared the national guidelines and action plan on Zika virus disease have been shared with the states to prevent an outbreak of the disease and containment of spread in case of any outbreak
  • It also constituted an inter-ministerial task force
  • Meanwhile, a technical group tasked to monitor emerging and re-emerging diseases regularly reviewed the global situation on Zika virus disease
  • All the international airports and ports have displayed information for travellers on Zika virus disease while the airport health officers along with airport organisations, the National Centre for Disease Control and the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme are monitoring appropriate vector control measures in airport premises.
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