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Zika virus outbreak: Union Health Ministry issues advisory to states

In view of some reported cases of Zika virus from Maharashtra, Dr Atul Goel, Director General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an advisory to States highlighting the need for maintaining a state of constant vigil over the Zika virus situation in the country.

As Zika is associated with microcephaly and neurological consequences in the foetus of the affected pregnant lady, States have been advised to alert the clinicians for close monitoring. States are urged to instruct the health facilities in the affected areas or those catering cases from affected areas to screen the pregnant women for Zika virus infection, monitor the growth of the fetus of expecting mothers who have tested positive for Zika and act as per Central Government Guidelines. States were also instructed to advise health facilities/hospitals to identify a nodal officer to monitor and act to keep the premises Aedes mosquito free.

States have been emphasized on the importance of strengthening the entomological surveillance and intensifying the vector control activities in residential areas, workplaces, schools, construction sites, institutions and health facilities. States are also urged to promote awareness through precautionary IEC messages in social media and other platforms to reduce panic among the community, as Zika is like any other viral infection with most cases being asymptomatic and mild. Though, it is reported to be associated with microcephaly, no report of any Zika associated microcephaly has been reported in the country since 2016.

For timely detection and control of any impending upsurge/outbreak, State authorities have been advised to be vigilant, prepared and ensure availability of appropriate logistics at all level. States were also urged to immediately report any detected case to Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and National Center for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

Zika testing facility is available at National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune; National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi and a few selected virus research and diagnostic laboratories of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Reviews are being held at higher level.

DGHS had also issued an advisory earlier this year on 26th April and Director, NCVBDC have issued two advisories in February and April, 2024 to forewarn states on Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya transmitted by same vector mosquito.

The Union Health Ministry continues to monitor the situation closely.
MB Bureau

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