After the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed three cases of Zika virus in India from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the directorate of health services of Maharashtra said women hospitals are being alerted to watch for Zika virus symptoms.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Satish Pawar, director, DHS said that Zika virus is not fatal but the birth defects caused due to Zika virus is a cause of concern and therefore all the women hospitals in the state has been alerted. “We are following the national guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry. We are also focusing on reducing the number of breeding spots of Aedes aegypti mosquito — carrier of Zika virus in the state,” he added.
He said the corporations and the local health bodies in the state have been asked to step up the surveillance and to concentrate on vector control. “Vector-borne diseases are more of an urban phenomenon,” said Dr Pawar.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has so far tested as many as 34,233 human samples and 12,647 mosquito samples for the presence of Zika virus. In the press release issued by the WHO, it has suggested that efforts to “strengthen surveillance should be maintained in order to better characterise the intensity of the viral circulation.” The WHO has so far not issued any travel advisory to India.
As per the WHO press release, the first Zika virus infection case in India was reported in February 2016, the other two were reported in November 2016 and January this year. The Union Health ministry maintains that the outbreak has been contained and no other case has been reported since January, 2017.
Dr Om Shrivastav, infectious disease expert in Mumbai said the fact that all the three Zika virus patients have survived and doing well shows that the government has done a commendable job. “All three patients have survived and that shows that the level of transmission of the virus is low and the burden of the virus is in control,” he added. Doctors say steps need to be taken to control breeding sites of mosquito that spreads Zika virus.
“So far, these cases are only from a village in Gujarat. We now need to see if the Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites has been reduced. Bringing down the mosquito breeding sites will be a challenge. There needs to be more awareness among people on the disease and how we can control the mosquito breeding sites,” said Dr Shrivastav.
Dr Vasant Nagwekar, infectious disease expert at Global Hospital said the symptoms of Zika virus infection are very similar to that of dengue and therefore doctors should be alert. “The symptoms of Zika virus infection are similar to dengue. Patients reporting with classic symptoms of dengue but tested negative for it should be tested for Zika virus,” said Dr Nagwekar.
He said it is not just the duty of the government, but of every individual to ensure that the mosquito breeding sites are in control. “Aedes aegypti mosquitoes breed in fresh/clean still water. As a responsible citizen, our job should be to ensure there is no Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding spots in our house, society,” said Dr Nagwekar.
Zika virus is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito. It was first identified in 1947 in rhesus monkeys in Uganda and was first identified in human beings in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to WHO. Outbreaks of Zika fever have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
About one in five people fall ill when infected with the zika virus.
Till now no vaccines or medication has not been found to treat the disease.
Once can the treat symptoms by:
Getting plenty of rest.
Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.
Taking acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain.
Avoiding aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The best way to prevent the virus from spreading infection is to control mosquitoes biting people. Special attention should be given to children. Clean water stored in containers should be regularly replaced.