Prepared for Zika virus, says govt.

Mumbai: Following the WHO confirmation of three cases of Zika virus infection in Ahmedabad, the State government has asked all public sector hospitals and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to be alert when treating pregnant women with fever.

The Zika virus infection is known to show up in mild forms, but congenital anomalies associated with the disease have the government worried. Doctors have been asked to find out if the patient has travelled to Gujarat recently, and posters on preventing the infection from spreading will be put up in buses and trains plying between Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Dr Satish Pawar, who heads the Directorate of Health Services, told The Hindu that there is no reason to panic. “The government has to be on alert mainly because there is a lot of travel and migration between Gujarat and Maharashtra, so we have sent out an advisory.” He added that infection’s symptoms are mild and subside on their in two weeks, given good intake of fluids and bed rest. “It is rare that the Zika virus is associated with death. The worry is more about the morbidity it causes than mortality, due to its link with anomalies in newborn children.”

Idzes Kundan, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC, said the situation is not alarming. “The preparedness is the same as it was for dengue and malaria. If need be, we will start a continuous medical education (CME) programme for doctors,” she said.

Intensified watch

Over the past six months, the State health department has been keeping records of anomalies in newborn children to gauge the increase or decrease in the incidence. “We will intensify this activity for the Zika virus as well. We have already informed all hospitals and maternity homes to closely monitor the unborn baby’s growth, and anomalies if any,” Dr. Pawar said. A pregnant woman with fever close to 38 degrees Celsius should be monitored and her blood samples should be tested for the Zika virus.

Dr. Pawar said surveillance on microcephaly births has been that intensified. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected, leading to an underdeveloped brain. This condition has been associated with babies born to women who infected by the Zika virus in Africa. Maharashtra sees 16.5 lakh deliveries annually.

“Roughly 10 lakh deliveries take place in public hospitals and the rest in private ones, so we have reached out to all doctors’ bodies,” Dr. Pawar said. As per protocol, six samples from the State were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) to be tested for the Zika virus in the past six months, but none tested positive.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:50:02 PM |

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