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First three cases of Zika Virus in India confirmed by WHO

Ahmedabad: Three cases of Zika Virus have been reported in Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad including a pregnant lady tested this January. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the first three cases of Zika virus in India.

“Ministry of Health and Family Welfare-Government of India (MoHFW) reported three laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus disease in Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad District, Gujarat, State, India” reported the website.

It continued saying “The routine laboratory surveillance detected a laboratory-confirmed case of Zika virus disease through RT-PCR test at B.J. Medical College, Ahmedabad, and Gujarat. The etiology of this case has been further confirmed through a positive RT-PCR test and sequencing at the national reference laboratory, National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune on 4 January 2017”.

Dr Vijay Kohli, entomologist of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, when contacted and asked about the confirmation by the WHO said, “ I also read the report a few hours ago and am not equipped with information at the moment. All I can say is that we have to make sure that the surveillance is better and we work towards eradicating the mosquitoes. Ahmedabad has always been the first to report outbreaks .So either we have a lot of illnesses or we are reporting better than other states.”

Gujarat Government has recently initiated its free Gujarat from Malaria by 2022 campaign in Ahmedabad on 24th May, and since then has only reported cases of Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue , and not all fever cases.

Dr. Deepak B Saxena, said, “We need to be vigilant now. The virus that causes Zika and Dengue are the same. So it will be easy for Zika to spread. We are at a risk .We have to have a surveillance system in place. The government has been keen on the malaria campaign when it should have targeted all non-communicable diseases. Because of a single campaign other serious diseases are ignored”. Dr Saxena is Additional Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) in Gandhinagar.

He further added that “For antenetal mothers this is dangerous. Zika virus causes microcephaly which is a lifelong morbidity”

Microphelay is a birth defect where the baby’s head is not properly developed and is comparatively smaller to other babies of the same age group.

The WHO website also stated that, “An Inter-Ministerial Task Force has been set up under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) together with Secretary (Bio-Technology), and Secretary (Department of Health Research). The Joint Monitoring Group, a technical group tasked to monitor emerging and re-emerging diseases is regularly reviewing the global situation on Zika virus disease.”

“ The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had tested 34 233 human samples and 12 647 mosquito samples for the presence of Zika virus. Among those, close to 500 mosquitos samples were collected from Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad District, in Gujarat, and were found negative for Zika ,” read the WHO notification on its website.

The website also mentions The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) is involved in monitoring cases of microcephaly from 55 sentinel sites in Ahmedabad.

So far, no cases of increased number of microcephaly cases has been reported from these centres.

Health minister Shankar Chaudhary and commissioner of health J.P.Gupta have not yet responded to calls and messages enquiring about the situation, as reported in The Indian Express.