Although a recent study by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) showed hidden spread of Zika virus in several states, health experts on Monday said the virus has already become endemic in India.
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a contagious flavivirus transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, sexual contact, and contact with urine.
While Zika was previously reported in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu in 2017 and Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in 2018, the virus was also detected in Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi in 2021.
The ICMR said that the presence of ZIKV in these new states confirmed local transmission of the virus.
“Our retrospective surveillance of Zika virus demonstrates latent spread of this virus in almost all parts of India, with the later Rajasthani 2018 ZIKV strain predominant,” the authors note.
Aedes aegypti samples taken during the 2018 Zika virus outbreak in Rajasthan showed the presence of the Asian ancestry of the virus, not the American ancestry that caused a global medical emergency in 2016: thousands of babies with birth defects such as microcephaly after birth were born. His mother got infected while pregnant.
However, microcephaly has not yet been reported in India.
“Zika virus infections are currently very common in India as well, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. So, to put it simply, I would say Zika virus is already endemic in India,” said Dr Satish Kol. Director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram told IANS.
Kuhl attributed the endemism to “our special rainy season”, which “causes an increase in these vector-borne diseases in India”.
Dr. Marilyn Moni, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, said that “increasing rate of global warming” which leads to “irregular rainfall and increased mosquito density” is likely to lead to further spread of Zika virus . India.
“There is a possibility that it will become endemic, and there may be transmission from people who do not have symptoms. This has contributed in increasing the transmission of the disease to endemic levels in the last few years,” Moni told IANS.
In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the next pandemic could be caused by insect-borne pathogens, including Zika and dengue fever.
The agency noted that the frequency and magnitude of outbreaks of these Aedes mosquito-borne viruses are increasing worldwide due to a combination of environmental, economic and social factors.
Although there are no treatment options available for Zika virus in the world, conservative treatment, good hydration, paracetamol is recommended whenever the patient shows any symptoms of body ache or fever, Dr. Umang Agarwal, Infectious Disease Consultant, This was told to IANS from PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC.
“In terms of disease prevention, the main precautions we need to take is to ensure that we take as many mosquito prevention measures as possible. This would include the use of mosquito nets, ensuring good general hygiene around the house, so that there are no puddles where mosquitoes can breed, etc,” he said.
Recently, scientists at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have also raised the alarm about Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya co-infection.
Experts call for continuous and better surveillance of ZIKV, as well as dengue and chikungunya; And there is a need to develop a safe and effective ZIKV vaccine that can be given to pregnant women.
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