The number of those infected with the Zika virus in Rajasthan rose to 100 Wednesday, with 20 new cases confirmed. The primary concern continues to be pregnant women, with 23 of them among the 100 cases. While the symptoms of Zika virus infection itself are not alarming and can be easily treated, it can be transmitted to the foetus and cause a condition called microcephaly, a congenital defect in which the baby’s brain is underdeveloped and head is smaller than normal.
In Brazil, where over 100,000 people were infected in a Zika outbreak in 2015, at least 3,762 babies were born with microcephaly. That epidemic prompted WHO to declare a global public health emergency in February 2016 to investigate and ultimately identify the virus as a cause of microcephaly and other birth defects.
READ | How Zika spreads, and harms
Now, high incidence of microcephaly in Angola is being interpreted as an indication of a possible Zika outbreak in the African nation of Angola. At least 72 babies have been born with microcephaly in Angola between February 2017 and May 2018. An internal World Health Organization report, quoted by Reuters, concluded in April that two cases of a potentially dangerous strain of Zika confirmed in early 2017, along with the microcephaly cases identified since then, provided “strong evidences” of a Zika-linked microcephaly cluster in Angola. Doctors and researchers now fear it could spread to other African countries.
Angola’s Ministry of Health, on the other hand, told Reuters that it had reports of 41 cases of Zika and 56 cases of microcephaly since January 2017, when it began gathering data. These figures differed from the WHO internal report quoted by Reuters.
This Word Means | Kamikaze drone
A self-destructing unmanned aerial vehicle being acquired by NSG. How does it work?
At its Raising Day function in Manesar Tuesday, the National Security Guard (NSG) showcased some of its recently acquired unmanned aerial vehicles (The Indian Express, October 17). NSG sources have said their new acquisitions include kamikaze drones. A kamikazi drone, also called a suicide drone or, more formally, a loitering munition, is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is designed to self-destruct after serving its purpose. It can be effective in room intervention during counter-terrorism operations — a drone breaking in and exploding will involve a lower risk of casualty than jawans entering entering physically.
In fact, the evolution of the drone had begun with self-destructing munitions. In a paper on loitering munitions, Bard University (New York) describes the World War One-era Kettering Bug, regarded as one of the first drones, which was designed to deliver an explosive charge by crashing into its targets. Although the word “drone” is associated more with a reconnaissance-and-strike aircraft today, the emergence of loitering munitions once again blurs the line, the paper says.
A loitering munition is portable, making it ideal for ground units such as NSG. While some come with a warhead, in others the drone itself is the main munition. Equipped with high-resolution cameras, it can also home in on radio emissions, or be flown manually by remote control. If a target is not engaged, the drone will return and land itself at the base. The name “loitering” derives from a defining characteristic: the ability to “loiter” in the air for an extended period of time before striking, giving the targeter time to decide when and what to strike.
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