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Kerala Reports 14 Cases of Zika Virus, State Draws up Action Plan to Control Spread

Representational photo.

Representational photo.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus; most patients do not show any symptoms.

Cases of Zika virus in Kerala went up to 14 on Friday with the National Institute of Virology (NIV) confirming 13 more cases. Following this, the State has been put on alert.

Among the infected was a 24-year-old pregnant woman who was diagnosed with the mosquito-transmitted disease on Thursday. Hers was the first case of the virus in the State. Of the 19 samples sent to the institute, the 13 were found to be positive for Zika, according to the State government. The symptoms are similar to dengue and they include fever, rashes and joint pain.

All those tested positive on Friday are health workers from a private hospital in Thiruvanathapuram. 

Health Minister of the State Veena George said an action plan has been drawn up to control the spread of Zika. Pregnant women should get themselves tested if they have fever, the Minister said at a meeting of the District Medical Officers (DMOs).

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Of the 19 samples sent from Thiruvananthapuram, 13 health workers, including doctors, were suspected to be positive for Zika. The woman, hailing from Parassalain Thiruvananthapuram district, who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, delivered her baby on July 7. Her condition is said to be stable.

She had been admitted to the hospital on June 28 with fever, headache and red marks on her body. The tests conducted at the hospital confirmed that she was positive following which her samples were sent to NIV, Pune.

The condition of the woman was satisfactory. Though she does not have any travel history outside the state, her house is on the Tamil Nadu border. A week ago, her mother had also shown similar symptoms, a government release added.

The symptoms of Zika are similar to dengue including fever, skin rashes and joint pain.

According to WHO, the Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that 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.

Even though a majority of people infected with Zika virus do not develop symptoms, some of them exhibit medical conditions like fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These usually last for 27 days.

The virus is highly transmissible through mosquito bites, mainly the Aedes aegypti type that also transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Although it does not cause serious health issues, if found in pregnant women, it may cause birth defects like microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities.

The outbreak, if spreads wide, could potentially dent the state’s fight against Covid-19. Kerala’s active caseload has increased by almost 12,000 cases in the last 10 days, and the daily cases have nearly doubled since June 28 sending alarm bells across the state administration that the third wave may be closer than it seemed.

With PTI inputs

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first published:July 08, 2021, 17:50 IST