Days after an elderly woman from Jaipur in Rajasthan tested positive for Zika virus infection, a five-member medical team, including experts from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, has been sent to the state capital to investigate this year’s first case of Zika virus, a Union Health Ministry official said on Tuesday. “We have dispatched a team to verify the facts and ascertain the ground situation. The team has already reached Jaipur,” a Union Health Ministry official said. The five-member team is being led by Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“There is complete preparedness as per national guidelines and response plan,” highly placed NIV officials told The Indian Express.
Rajasthan health authorities had issued an alert after an 85-year-old woman tested positive for Zika virus infection in Jaipur. NIV confirmed the presence of Zika virus in the serum samples sent to them. ” We have sent our experts with the Centre’s team to Jaipur to investigate the case,” NIV officials said.
Last year, four Zika virus cases – three from Gujarat and one from Chennai – had been reported. Since 2013, with the first reported Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Marquesas Islands and its subsequent spread to Brazil in May 2015, health agencies in India have been on alert and kept a watch on the Zika infections in India.
The three cases identified in Gujarat and one in Chennai did not reveal any travel history to ZIKV-endemic region, suggesting that the ZIKV is not a recent introduction into the country, NIV officials had said in their study published in Intervirology earlier this year. The study had shown that the Indian Aedes aegypti mosquito species that transmits dengue and chikungunya viruses is easily susceptible to the Zika virus.
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme officials in Maharashtra said that they had stepped up surveillance and as per guidelines, measures are taken at airports and ports. State Surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told The Indian Express that there were no Zika virus cases in the state.
“We have taken extra precautionary measures. So far, there are no cases,” Dr Awate said.