Threatening the health of many, the Zika virus disease has reached India. Notably, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed its first three cases in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.
Laboratory tests conducted in India, authorised by the WHO, said that all the 3 cases, including that of a pregnant woman, were reported from Bapunagar area of the city.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. The disease is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes and an infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects in newborns known as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that have not developed properly. The WHO said a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects has not yet been established but is strongly suspected.
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“The 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,” the global health body said in a statement.
However, India has tightened 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, a senior Health Ministry official said.
People who get Zika virus disease typically have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue, with symptoms normally lasting for two to seven days. Most people never develop symptoms.
There is no treatment or vaccine available for Zika infection. The World Health Organization has said no vaccine is likely to be available until 2020.