Karnataka is taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of the Zika virus after the state recently reported its first case of the infection.
A five-year-old girl in Raichur’s Koli Camp village tested positive for the vector-borne infection early this month. The Centre sent an expert team from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme to Karnataka to help the state contain the Zika virus.
Shankar Patil Munenakoppa, the minister in charge of the Raichur district, held a detailed discussion with the Karnataka health department officials and the central team on Thursday, 15 December, on the steps that have to be initiated to prevent a possible spread of the Zika virus.
After the meeting, the minister directed the health department to initiate measures to control the breeding of mosquitoes.
“There is a need to create awareness among people on why it’s important to keep the surroundings clean and prevent them from becoming mosquito-breeding sites. People should know about the problems mosquitoes can cause,” Patil told reporters after the meeting.
He also insisted that the district health department officials in Karnataka should take the Zika virus seriously. Besides creating awareness, they should also take up the initiative to control the breeding of mosquitoes, the minister said.
Karnataka health department issues Zika virus circular
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday, issued a detailed advisory, explaining the Zika virus, and its status in Karnataka.
The circular said the first case was reported on December 3.
Tests for dengue and chikungunya were conducted on a five-year-old girl with viral fever on 14 November, the circular said.
Samples taken from the child were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. Tests conducted at the NIV confirmed the presence of the Zika virus.
The health department ruled out any epidemiological link to the Zika positive case. It also said the girl had no travel history to any Zika-infected geographical area.
What is this virus?
Zika is an emerging disease caused by the Zika virus of the flavivirus family. It is closely related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses. In humans, it is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
It got its name from Uganda’s Ziika forest, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
Symptomatic attack rate among the infected is 198 and it affects all age groups. However, adults are more likely to get infected. The virus’s incubation period is three-14 days. It ranges from a few days to one week. Some infected pregnant women can have evidence of the Zika virus in their blood longer than expected. The virus remains in semen and urine longer than in blood.
Is Zika fatal?
So far there have been no reports of severe disease, hospitalisation or deaths.
Clinical illness is usually mild. Symptoms are fever, red eyes, headache, rashes, muscle pain, joint pain. Symptoms usually last for 2-7 days.
Tests to diagnose Zika virus
RT-PCR test on serum and urine during first two weeks after illness. Plaque reduction neutralisation test (PRNT) is conducted to check the presence of virus-specific neutralising antibodies in paired serum samples.
Who can test for the virus?
- Those who live in, or have recently travelled to, any area with active Zika transmission.
- People who have had unprotected sex with someone confirmed to have it.
Pregnant women should take care
- Zika can pass from a pregnant woman to her foetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
- Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
- It can cause eye defects, hearing loss, impaired growth and foetal loss.
- There is no evidence that previous infection will affect future pregnancies.
- All pregnant women should be assessed for possible exposure at each prenatal care visit.
Zika tests for pregnant women
- Pregnant women with possible exposure to Zika should be tested based on the symptoms.
- Pregnant women with possible exposure and signs or symptoms consistent with Zika virus should be tested during their first and second trimester of pregnancy.
- Infants with microcephaly or intracranial calcifications born to women who travelled to, or resided in an area with Zika virus transmission while being pregnant.
- Infants born to mothers with positive results for the virus infection.
Zika virus treatment, is there a vaccine?
- There is no vaccine available for Zika virus.
- It is usually relatively a mild viral disease and requires no specific treatment.
- The virus can be treated with common pain and fever medicines, rest and plenty of water.
- If symptoms worsen, seek medical advice.
How to prevent infection
- Primary prevention is to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
- Use mosquito nets.
- Wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible.
- Use of insect repellents.
- Use physical barriers such as screens.
- Close doors and windows.
- Epidemiological surveillance.
- ANC surveillance (pregnant women).
- Entomological surveillance.
- Integrated vector management.
- Daily reporting.
- Capacity building of health staff.