Indian athlete Sudha Singh, who participated in the 3000 metre steeplechase at the Rio Olympics, has given blood samples for tests to check for the Zika virus.
The onset of fever, tiredness and dehydration on her arrival at the hostel of the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru, prompted the tests. Sudha has been admitted to the Fortis hospital in Bengaluru in an isolation ward and is showing signs of recovery, doctors from SAI and the Karnataka health and family welfare department who are monitoring the health of the athlete, said.
Tests for mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya were negative. The blood sample of the athlete is being sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune on Tuesday morning to test for the Zika virus, the deputy director for disease surveillance in the Karnataka health department, Dr Harshvardhan said.
There were three athletes in all who returned from Rio and reported illnesses. Two of the athletes — O P Jaisha from Kerala and Kavita Raut from Maharashtra — said that they had recovered and chose to return to their homes. We have, however, informed health officials in the two states to monitor their health, the Karnataka health official said. Sudha developed fever on her return journey to India and consumed some medicines on her own and did not report her illness at the health office at the airport set-up to screen passengers with symptoms of Ebola and Zika. She, however, reported being ill when she reached the SAI hostel in Bengaluru.
“Jaisha was fine and she has chosen to go home. We did not see Kavita Raut here,’’ said the SAI medical officer Dr S R Sarala.
Sudha Singh competed in the 3000 M steeplechase event at Rio while O P Jaisha and Kavita Raut participated in the women’s marathon.
“The athletes seem to be showing signs of extreme dehydration and infection by a virus. Since all flu type viruses show similar symptoms only a test can rule out the Zika virus. Sudha Singh’s blood pressure is normal, a chest x-ray was clear. She is dehydrated and has been advised a lot of fluids and she is showing signs of recovery. From preliminary investigations we think it could be a viral fever. The others seem to have battled it,” the state health official Dr Harshavardhan said.
“There are all kinds of viruses all over the place and nothing can be said until samples are tested and individual viruses like the Zika virus ruled out,” says infectious diseases expert Dr John Kenneth from the Narayana Hospital.
“Sudha Singh is still in hospital but seems to be better. The Karnataka health department has taken up the matter of getting the infection tested,” regional director of SAI M Shyam Sunder said.The Zika virus has not been reported in India but the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the virus is widely prevalent in India and transmits the dengue virus.
According to India’s ministry of health and family welfare up to 80 percent of people infected with the Zika virus “remain asymptomatic or show mild symptoms of fever, rash, conjunctivitis, body ache, joint pains.”
Zika virus infection should be suspected in patients reporting acute onset of fever, maculo-papular rash and joint pains if they have traveled to affected areas upto two weeks prior to the onset of illness, the ministry of health has stated. The Zika virus is spread by the bites of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in affected areas and sexually between humans.
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