Tamil Nadu reports first case of Zika virus

CHENNAI: The first case of Zika in Tamil Nadu was reported from a sleepy hamlet in Krishnagiri district by the state public health authorities on Monday, nearly two months after the World Health Organization confirmed such cases in India.

Blood samples of a 28-year-old tailor, a resident of Natranpalayam Panchayat who reported to the Anchetty primary health center with complaints of fever, redness in the eye, photophobia, skin rashes and joint pain, was confirmed to be positive for Zika virus by labs, including National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Although the viral disease is known to have existed in India since 1952, Zika attracted global attention in late 2015 when a surge in the number of babies born with microcephaly — brain damage caused by abnormally small heads — was reported in northeastern Brazil months after an epidemic, said ICMR director general Dr Soumya Swaminathan. “So far 40,000 people have been tested for Zika in the country,” she said.

In February 2016, WHO declared Zika as a global health emergency. Since November 2016, three people have been tested positive for the virus, according to the Union health ministry. The patient from Tamil Nadu is the fourth known Zika case in the country making Tamil Nadu the second state to report the case after Gujarat.

Senior officials including health secretary J Radhakrishnan visited the patient at his home over the weekend. Vector control measures were carried out in the area

The patient was recovering well and was being monitored by a team of doctors, health minister C Vijayabaskar said. “We have been actively screening for the virus in the last two years. We were able to detect the virus in our rural PHC,” he said.

As a protocol, all patients with complaints of fever and fatigue are tested for dengue, chikungunya, malaria, jaundice, typhoid and leptospirosis. If clinical symptoms show signs of dengue or chikungunya and tests turn negative, samples are sent for Zika test. Kits for these tests have been given by the Centre to the King Institute.

Public health officials in the state said they decided to go public with the detection as soon as they detected the disease to create awareness about the disease. “The disease is here. There is no point in keeping it a secret. We want doctors to keep their eyes open to this disease and we want patients to meet a doctor as soon as they see the symptom,” said state health secretary Radhakrishnan.

Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is viral disease transmitted by Aedes mosquito. These mosquitos breed in fresh water by laying eggs near standing water in buckets, pots, and vases mostly in areas of habitation.

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
“As of now, we don’t know how our patient was infected because he does not have a history of travel. He has only been travelling to neighbouring states now and then,” said director of public health Dr K Kolandaisamy.

Signs and symptoms of Zika virus usually begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Most people with the viral infection show no symptoms, but others may have fever, rash, and joint pain apart from headache, red eyes (conjunctivitis) and fatigue.

 

 

 

Source: Times Of India

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