Moving fast, the West Bengal government has formed a five-member expert committee after Kerala reported its first cases of Zika virus. The expert committee has been tasked to shape the government’s response to the mosquito-borne disease - a new challenge amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kerala has so far detected 14 positive cases of Zika virus after the National Institute of Virology confirmed 13 more cases today. The state government has sounded an alert against the virus and have urged the people to report if they have Zika virus-like symptoms.
Whereas, the West Bengal government has also sent out a message to all the district administrations, instructing them to report any suspected case of Zika virus directly to the health department. Pregnant women need to be extra cautious as the disease can also be transmitted to the foetus from the mother.
Incidentally, the first case of Zika virus in Kerala was also reported in a 24-year-old pregnant woman on Thursday. The woman, who hails from Parassala in Thiruvananthapuram district, delivered her baby on July 7. Both the mother and the newborn are stable. The woman was admitted to hospital on June 28 with fever, rashes and headache.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George said that the state government has drawn an action plan to tackle the Zika virus. During a meeting with District Medical Officers (DMOs), the minister underlined that pregnant women should get themselves tested if they feel Zika-like symptoms.
Zika virus originated in Uganda in 1947 where it was found in monkeys, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the first human case was reported in 1952 in Uganda and since then multiple outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia and other regions.
The virus transmits through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and even though it is not deadly, positive pregnant women can transmit it to their newborn, and the baby could have birth defects like microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities.