Here’s all you need to know about the outbreak …
Kerala on alert
Kerala detected its first case of zika virus on Thursday after a 24-year-old pregnant woman near Thiruvananthapuram tested positive for the disease.
By Saturday, the cases rose to 14, with 13 more samples sent to National Institute of Virology coming out positive.
“Our department is on high alert and monitoring the situation closely. For Covid, we have always tried to keep number of cases below medical capacity. No one died in Kerala due to lack of oxygen supply,” state health minister Veena George told ANI.
George had earlier said that an action plan has been drawn up to control the spread of zika.
Centre rushes team
On Friday, the Centre rushed a team of experts to monitor the situation and aid the state government in management of the cases.
Joint secretary in the Union health ministry, Lav Agarwal, told reporters in New Delhi that “there are some zika cases which have been reported from Kerala.”
“To monitor the situation and to support the state government, a six-member team, comprising public health experts, vector-borne disease experts and clinicians from AIIMS has already been issued instructions to reach there and support the state government in terms of management of zika there,” he said.
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu intensify vigil
Meanwhile, the Karnataka health department has instructed officials to intensify vector control measures in the state with zika cases emerging in neighboring Kerala.
The districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chamarajanagara, bordering Kerala, have been asked to be more vigilant.
“In view of reporting of Zika Virus Disease (ZVD) in the neighboring State of Kerala, it is crucial to intensify the vector control measures in Karnataka also. The current monsoon season supports the widespread proliferation of Aedes mosquito, which is a vector for Zika Virus Disease,” a circular by the Commissionerate of Health & Family Welfare Services said.
Tamil Nadu has also directed all its districts, particularly those neighbouring Kerala, to intensify surveillance.
What are the symptoms of zika virus?
Like dengue and malaria, zZika is a kind of virus that spreads from the bite of a mosquito.
It is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. The same mosquito is responsible for spreading dengue, chikungunya as well.
The first visible sign of zika is fever, much like dengue. However, it is very hard to diagnose at first. Many patients confuse the symptoms of the flu and hence, they do not know if they have contracted zika.
The common symptoms include fever, rashes and joint pain. The incubation period is three to 14 days.
Zika virus in India
The virus is not new to India. The first known case in India was confirmed by the World Health Organization back in 2017.
In February 2016, WHO had declared zika as a global health emergency.
Gujarat was the first state to report a zika virus case in India, followed by Tamil Nadu.
Can you die of zika?
Not necessarily. Like other mosquito-bitten diseases, rest and medication are the keys to cure zika. Usually, patients recover but the disease kills about 1 per cent of patients.
Is there a solution?
No vaccine currently exists to prevent zika. However, researchers in France are trying to develop a safe, effective vaccine for which trials are under way.
(With inputs from agencies)