Ministry of Health prepares to fight Zika virus


Experts say the most important thing is to avoid water stagnation so as not to allow mosquitoes to breed

Strengthening vector control measures statewide following the detection of Zika virus disease (ZVD) cases in Kerala, the State Department of Health has asked authorities to test samples of suspected Zika cases. after excluding dengue and chikungunya.

Health Commissioner KV Trilok Chandra said The Hindu that authorities have been ordered to exclude dengue and chikungunya first in all fever cases. “Although we have sounded a high alert in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chamarajanagar on the Kerala border, surveillance has been stepped up statewide as mosquito breeding can occur anywhere,” he said. he declares.

“ASHAs and health assistants have been tasked with scaling up routine surveillance activity in rural areas and fortnightly surveillance activity in urban areas. Municipal bodies have been urged to ensure efficient solid waste disposal to prevent mosquito breeding in peridomestic areas, ”the commissioner said, adding that travel history or visiting guests will be taken into account to suspect Zika.

Similar viruses

Virologist V. Ravi, who previously headed the department of neurovirology at NIMHANS, said dengue and zika viruses are closely related members of the flavivirus genus. Both are transmitted to humans by the bite of the day Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that breed in small freshwater collections.

Infection with the dengue virus may be asymptomatic or cause symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, and rash. In some cases, the disease can be severe, causing a hemorrhagic fever and even shock (a dangerous drop in blood pressure).

Zika virus causes a generally mild illness characterized by fever, rash, joint pain, malaise, headache, and conjunctivitis. In adults, it can sometimes cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disease affecting peripheral nerves, and in pregnant women who were infected in the first trimester, the virus can cause brain abnormalities in the fetus. in development.

Unlike dengue, Zika is also transmitted sexually. There is also a risk of getting Zika after a blood transfusion from an infected person.

Dr Ravi said the Zika virus is not new to India and has been circulating here since 1954. However, there have been no major epidemics except one in Rajasthan in 2018, where 159 people were. infected. The first case was detected in Gujarat in 2016, he said.

Senior scientist SK Ghosh, who previously headed the ICMR – National Malaria Research Institute field station in Bengaluru, said that with the emergence of new vector-borne diseases, the focus should be on recruiting more entomologists. “We do not have a sufficient number of qualified entomologists at present,” he said.

“It’s important that people limit their exposure to the outdoors, use high-quality mosquito repellants and stay covered during the day. People who stay inside must make sure that there is no stagnation of water in the premises of their houses, ”he added.

Swati Rajagopal, infectious disease and travel medicine consultant at Aster CMI Hospital, said people with symptoms should get enough rest and adequate fluid intake apart from treatment for febrile illness. The incubation period for ZVD is estimated to be 3 to 14 days and symptoms usually last 2 to 7 days, ”the doctor said.

Usually not fatal

She stressed that there is no need to panic because zika infection is usually not fatal. “It is important that authorities ensure appropriate disinfection measures in low-lying and overcrowded areas to limit the spread of further infection. If nothing is done, in time, with the third wave of the virus, it could prove to be a double whammy for the health sector, ”she added.

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