India confirms three Zika virus cases: WHO

Zika virus is mainly transmitted through mosquitoes. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, India May 27, 2017, 01.37 PM (IST)

The Indian health ministry has confirmed its first cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported on May 26.

The WHO report states that the findings suggest a "low level transmission of Zika virus" but warns new cases may occur in the future.

There was no update on the current health status of the detected cases in the report.

All three cases are from the Bapunagar locality of the Gujarat capital. 

WHO said on its website that the federal government's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reported three laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus disease in Bapunagar area on May 15. 

Two of the cases were detected by the Indian government in 2016 and the latest in January this year.

The blood samples were tested at the BJ Medical College in the city.

The first case, of a 64-year-old male, was detected during an Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) surveillance in February 2016. The second case, of a 34-year-old pregnant woman who contracted the virus after her delivery at the BJ Medical College, was detected in November 2016. The third case was detected in January this year and was of a 22-year-old pregnant woman who was infected with the virus during the 37th week of her pregnancy.

Zika often causes no more than mild flu-like symptoms in adults. In rare cases, it can cause babies to be born with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads.

Symptoms include mild fever, conjunctivitis, headache, joint pain, and a rash.

The country was on alert at the peak of the global virus outbreak, but no cases of the infection have been reported until now. 

Prevention and control

WHO advises that prevention and control can be carried out "by reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people."

It further advises health authorities to spray insecticides in case of outbreaks.

The world health body also asks people travelling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women, to take basic precautions for protection including use of repellents, wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

WHO says that on the basis of the information available at the monent, it does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to India.

The mosquito-borne virus has spread to more than 60 countries and territories in a global outbreak that was first identified in Brazil in 2015.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries Zika and the dengue and chikungunya viruses, is widely prevalent in India.

The WHO has said no vaccine is likely to be available until 2020. 

(WION)

Story highlights

Two cases were reported by the Indian government in February last year and the latest on May 15 ||WHO says in its report that the findings suggest a 'low level transmission of Zika virus' but warns new cases may occur in the future ||