Kerala has reported its first case of Zika virus on Thursday after a 24-year-old pregnant woman was found infected in Thiruvananthapuram. While the National Institute of Virology has confirmed one case in Pune, 13 other suspected cases from different parts of the state have been identified.
According to the sources, out of the 19 samples sent for testing, 13 tested positive for the virus. However, there is no official confirmation yet.
Soon after the first confirmed case, a high alert has been sounded across the state. Health minister Veena George directed all district health officers to be alert on the new-found infection that spreads through mosquito bites, The New Indian Express reported.
The health minister said the woman, a native of Parassala, was admitted on June 28 with symptoms of fever, headache and rashes on her body. She tested mildly positive for the RT-PCR test, and her samples were sent to NIV-Pune for confirmation. However, the patient's health condition is satisfactory and she had a normal delivery on July 7.
Although the woman has no travel history, her house is situated near the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. A week ago, her mother had similar symptoms, the health department said.
Officials from the surveillance team, vector control unit and state epidemiology team visited the locality in Parassala and took measures to prevent the infection. It collected samples of Aedes mosquitos, responsible for spreading dengue, chikungunya and Zika fever, from the areas where the virus has been reported, The New Indian Express stated.
What Is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is a disease that spreads mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Symptoms are usually mild and last less than a week. They include fever, rashes, joint pain and red eyes. However, the virus can prove threatening to pregnant women as they can transmit the infection to their fetus that could cause deformities. Presently, there is no vaccine available for the disease, and the focus is usually on managing symptoms, including proper rest and rehydration.
According to WHO, the Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, News18 reported. In 2015, More than 1600 Brazilian children were born with devastating microcephaly.
The National Institute of Virology (NIV) had successfully isolated the Zika virus for the first time in November 2018. In India, the first local outbreak of Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district in July 2017, Hindustan Times reported.
Later in 2018, more than 100 people tested positive for the virus in Rajasthan.