Twenty-nine people have tested positive for Zika virus in Jaipur, senior officials of Rajasthan’s Health Department said on Tuesday.
According to officials, the first case was reported on September 23, following which tests established traces of the virus in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on September 26.
“The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), National Centre for Disease Control and DGHS (Directorate General of Health Services) are monitoring the situation continuously. I want to assure citizens of India that everything is under control and there is no need to panic,” Union Health Minister J P Nadda said, according to PTI.
Veenu Gupta, additional chief secretary (Medical & Health and Family Welfare Department, Rajasthan), said, “All the cases are from Jaipur’s Shastri Nagar area. Around 450 samples have been sent for testing, of which 160 are of pregnant women,” said Rajasthan.
She said that among those who tested positive were three pregnant women, one of whom gave birth on Monday night.
Denying reports of laxity on part of the state government, Gupta said around 150 to 200 teams, along with administrative officials, are combing the affected area.
She also said, “More than 26,000 homes have been surveyed by officials with help of teams from the Health Department along with 29,000 breeding places for mosquito that carries the virus.”
Some activists and people in the health sector, however, said the authorities should have been more proactive after the first case emerged. “The government should have been more alert to contain the disease. Even right now, most of the surveillance is done in Shastri Nagar; other parts of the city should also be scanned,” Chhaya Pachauli of Jan Swasthay Abhiyan, Rajasthan, said.
The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday sought a comprehensive report from the Health Ministry on the Zika outbreak, and a seven-member high-level central team is in Jaipur to assist the state government in control and containment measures, PTI reported.
Dr P Ravindran, director of Emergency Medical Relief under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said in Jaipur that the present outbreak in the state surpasses the past two instances of Zika outbreaks in Ahmedabad and Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu. He said the disease is non-fatal and is mostly treated with paracetamols.
In at least one case, a patient went outside Jaipur after being tested positive for Zika, increasing chances of the disease spreading to other parts of the state, officials said. The father of the 17-year-old patient told The Indian Express that the teen went to Nohar, in Hanumangarh district, five or six days after he tested positive for Zika, and returned the same day.
According to Dr S K Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control, who is part of the visiting Central health team, a man from Jaipur who had recently visited Siwan in Bihar has also been diagnosed with the Zika virus.
“When this person went to Siwan, he didn’t have fever. He returned on September 15 and had fever on September 19. So it’s unlikely that he would have spread the virus in Siwan,” Dr Singh said. “Of course, it could also be possible that the person got infected in Siwan, which could be the case of another isolated infection.” He said both the Union Health Ministry and the Bihar government are investigating this.
Gupta said that five laboratories have been set up in the state — in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jhalawar, Udaipur, and Kota — to test samples.