Zika virus alert in India, WHO confirms cases reported first during 2016

Contrary to the perception that latest Zika attacks were first of its kind in India, the dreaded virus had reached here in 2016 itself and has been only officially confirmed by the World Health Organization now

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New Delhi: In its latest disease outbreak news dated May 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed three cases of from Ahmedabad, including a pregnant lady tested in January, 2016.
The routine surveillance detected a laboratory-confirmed case of Zika virus disease through RT-PCR test at B J Medical College in Ahmedabad. This was further confirmed at the national reference laboratory at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune on 4 January this year. The WHO said two additional cases were then identified through the Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) and the Antenatal clinic (ANC) surveillance.
Between 10-16 February in 2016, a total 93 blood samples were collected at BJ Medical College (BJMC) out of which one sample from a 64-year-old male had tested positive for Zika virus.
The WHO in its statement mentioned, “The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare-Government of India (MoHFW) reported three laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus disease in Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad District, Gujarat, State, India.”
The WHO note said that a 34-year-old female delivered a clinically well baby at BJMC in Ahmedabad on November 9, 2016. During her hospital stay, she developed a low-grade fever after delivery. No history of fever during pregnancy and no history of travel for the past three months was reported. A sample from the patient was referred to the Viral Research & Diagnostic Laboratory at the BJMC for dengue testing and thereafter found to be positive for Zika virus. She was discharged after one week (on November 16, 2016). The sample was re-confirmed as Zika virus positive by RT-PCR and sequencing at NIV, Pune.
The union health ministry too has now confirmed that the laboratories had received the samples, first in January 2016, then in November 2016 and the last one in January 2017. However, the question to be asked is that why did health ministry keep it under the carpet for more than one year. Hopefully, it would clarify.
The Zika virus is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes and an infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects in newborns known as microcephaly, a condition in which babies’ head is abnormally small. It is characterised by brain damage and may cause other defects like blindness, deafness, and even seizures.