Zika Virus

After the ministry of health and family welfare-government of India (MoHFW), reported three cases that are laboratory confirmed of zika virus disease in the Bapoonagar area of Ahmadabad district of Gujarat, the world health organization has also confirmed that the Zika virus has reached India.

The virus is linked to a devastating birth defect called microcephaly that affect new born babies leading to abnormal small heads and brains that are underdeveloped. According to the reports of WHO a direct relationship between the zika virus and birth defects has not yet been established but is suspected very strongly. The virus is likely to be transmitted to people by a bite of female aedes mosquitoes, the same who are responsible for spreading dengue, chickungunya and yellow fever. In mid-2015 Zika erupted on a large scale in Brazil and other countries of South America. The WHO has reported no treatment or vaccine is likely to be available until 2020.

The detected cases that show the presence of zika virus are reported from the state of Gujarat. A senior health ministry official said, “India has strengthened its surveillance system in the past few years to detect and contain new infections. Only three Zika cases have been detected in around 50,000 tested so far.” As per the statement of WHO, routine surveillance detected a laboratory-confirmed case of Zika virus disease through RT-PCR test at B J Medical College (BJMC) of Ahmadabad. Further it was confirmed by the national reference laboratory at the national institute of Virology that is located in Pune. WHO has said that in addition to this, two more cases were identified through the Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) and the Antenatal clinic (ANC) surveillance.

As soon as the cases of presence of zika virus were identified and reported, the Health ministry shared the national guidelines and action plan on Zika virus disease with the states to prevent an outbreak of the disease and containment of spread in case of any outbreak. An inter-ministerial task force was also formed and a technical group is tasked to monitor emerging and re-emerging diseases regularly reviewing the global situation on Zika virus disease.