Zika virus infection confirmed in Kerala

Mosquito-borne viral infection detected in pregnant woman from Parassala

July 08, 2021 09:52 pm | Updated July 09, 2021 09:57 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Zika, a mosquito-borne viral infection, has been officially confirmed for the first time in Kerala, after the virus was detected in the blood samples of a pregnant woman from Parassala in the district, who had reported to a private hospital in the city with fever, rashes on the body and conjunctivitis on June 28.

The woman, who had been in her final weeks of gestation, has since delivered and the baby is reported to be fine.

A statement issued by the office of the Health Minister said that the official confirmation from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, was awaited.

19 more samples

It further said that 19 more samples from Thiruvananthapuram district, mostly of health-care workers in a private hospital in the city who had exhibited similar symptoms, had been sent to the NIV and 13 of these samples were also suspected to be positive for Zika virus.

 

The woman in whom Zika virus was confirmed lives closer to the Tamil Nadu border at Parassala and has no travel history. A week prior to her getting hospitalised with fever, her mother had also reported fever with similar symptoms.

Risk group

A senior infectious diseases consultant said that in the public, Zika passes off as a mild fever with itchy rashes, which resolves itself within 4-5 days and is often ignored by most people. Except for rare neurological manifestations like Guillian Barre syndrome in some, the disease has little significance for the general population. However, in pregnant women, especially those in the early trimester, the infection can seriously harm the developing foetus and lead to congenital anomalies.

Spread by Aedes

The State has sounded an alert across all districts to intensify mosquito-control activities as the virus is spread through the Aedes species of mosquitoes, which is found in high density across the State.

People have also been alerted to take individual protection against mosquito bites and to ensure that their premises are not breeding grounds for Aedes, which breeds in stagnant freshwater and rests mostly indoors.

In district surveillance and entomology teams have visited Parassala and nearby localities from where Aedes mosquito samples have been collected and sent to the NIV for analysis.

Public health expert B. Ekbal said that given the high density of mosquito population in the State, it was only a matter of time before Zika was reported in the State. It was highly possible that the virus was already in circulation in Kerala, but was being officially detected and confirmed for the first time now, he pointed out.

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