Health alarm: Scientists say the Zika virus spreading fast across the country
An ICMR report stated that ZIKV cases were detected in Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab and Telangana in the last few days
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About 65 patients tested positive for ZIKV (the disease caused due to Zika virus). ZIKV and dengue co-infection was found in two cases, while ZIKV, chikungunya and dengue co-infection was observed in one case. | Representational image
Cases of Zika virus (ZIKV), caused due to mosquitoes, are being detected across the country and could well spread further if the health machinery does not take precautionary measures in time, say, scientists.
A report published in a health journal states and prepared by scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated that Zika virus cases were detected in Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab and Telangana in the last few days.
About 65 patients tested positive for ZIKV (the disease caused due to Zika virus). ZIKV and dengue co-infection was found in two cases, while ZIKV, chikungunya and dengue co-infection was observed in one case.
ZIKV disease was put on surveillance some six years back. Not many cases were detected in the early years with the earliest cases found in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The infection caused due to mosquitoes that cause dengue, spread rapidly last year in Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
The ICMR report was prepared in coordination with the National Institute of Virology in Pune, AIIMS and RML in Delhi and Ranchi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). About 1500 clinical samples were collected from 13 states to check for dengue and chikungunya between May and October last year.
Besides 121 patients were found positive for dengue while 10 were positive for chikungunya.
The scientists emphasised the need for consistent monitoring for Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya cases and regular screening.
As per the ICMR report: “It’s also critical to strengthen linkages of ZIKV surveillance sites with existing newborn birth defect screening sites in the country to understand the spectrum of ZVD in babies born to ZIKV infected mothers. Development of quick and reliable tests as well as validating the utility of simple serology-based tests for ZIKV will help in augmenting the diagnostic capabilities.”
Zika virus is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (aegypti and albopictus), which bite during the day and night. The infection can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika forest in Uganda.