With the neighboring country of Bangladesh reporting its first case of the ZIKA virus, Indians have now a lot to be concerned. It is reported that authorities have been on their toes since the news of the case first came out. The ministry is now planning to begin random testing for zika virus on patients who show flu like symptoms.
Bangladesh had confirmed the presence of the Zika virus in a sample from a patient admitted in 2014-15 who had tested negative for dengue and chikungunya. Ironically, this patient had never traveled overseas. Zika virus is known to transmitted by the Aedes Aegeypti mosquito, which is also the primary carrier for the dengue and chikungunya. Both the latter diseases are highly common in India.
Anshu Prakash, joint secretary to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has informed the Mirror, “The Zika virus case in Bangladesh has definitely increased the chances of the virus surfacing in our country. But, since we have started blood sample testing here a month ago, we are positive that not a single case of Zika fever has been found so far with us. Also, we are already alert and equipped in fighting the virus; nationwide surveillance has kick-started from February itself. Besides, to avoid panic attacks and improve control measures, we have scheduled a review and sensitisation meeting with Chittagong, which will be held on Monday. The team will be reviewing the situation in Bangladesh. It will also be stressed that there will be no ban on travelling from one country to the other till the World Health Organisation (WHO) says so.”
It is reported that Bangladesh came to know about the existence of the virus through the process of random checking. “Of the 1000 such samples, we randomly tested 101 samples for Zika now. One sample tested positive. There could be two reasons for this: one, the patient had history of contact with an infected person, or had travelled to an endemic country. The other is that the virus is in circulation in Bangladesh,” Rahman told The Indian Express. Since the patient had no history of travel, officials are now suspecting one of the latter reasons to be true.
With the summers now approaching, India has also started with its own random checking process.“The Indian Council of Medical Research will also test the mosquito vector to check if it is carrying the Zika virus,” said Jagdish Prasad, Director General, Health Services, in the Ministry. “Like Bangladesh, we have also tested some samples retrospectively in National Institute of Virology in Pune but all samples have been negative so far.”
Authorities are starting another round of active sampling for the Zika virus from April 1 among the fever samples that are coming for dengue and chikungunya testing.