Zika virus: Surveillance intensified, 100 teams formed to screen pregnant women in Kanpur

ByHaidar Naqvi and Gaurav Saigal, Kanpur/lucknow
Nov 01, 2021 10:59 PM IST

400 pregnant women in Kanpur extremely vulnerable to Zika virus, indicates statistical analysis by health department

After the detection of 11 Zika virus cases in Kanpur since October 23, the state health department has sounded an alert across districts and intensified surveillance under its infectious disease control campaign to identify cases of infection, including Zika virus disease, in the early stages, officials said.

At present, Kanpur has 10 active cases of the Zika virus disease and one of them is a pregnant woman, who is being monitored round the clock. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE )
At present, Kanpur has 10 active cases of the Zika virus disease and one of them is a pregnant woman, who is being monitored round the clock. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE )

Besides, the health department in Kanpur has formed more than 100 teams of auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), Ashas (accredited social health activists) and health department employees to locate pregnant women and screen them thoroughly, said Dr GK Mishra, additional director (health) of Kanpur division.

The decision for the screening was taken after 400 pregnant women out of a population of 52,000 were found extremely vulnerable to the Zika virus in south-east Kanpur, according a statistical analysis by the health department in the last one week.

As of now, the medical teams have taken samples of 106 pregnant women and sent them for tests.

The health department in Kanpur did the analysis under the guidance of specialists sent from Delhi and Lucknow.

Intensifying surveillance is in consonance with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s directive to officials to increase focus on the infectious disease control.

“The health department must ensure strict surveillance to check the spread of the Zika virus and should undertake frequent and extensive door-to-door sanitisation and fogging drives to stop breeding of mosquitoes,” the chief minister instructed officials, a state government spokesperson said in a press statement.

At present, Kanpur has 11 active cases of the Zika virus disease and one of them is a pregnant woman, who is being monitored round the clock.

The Zika virus causes microcephaly and Gaullion Barre (GB) syndrome in pregnant women.

Microcephaly is a birth defect in which the growth of the baby’s head is affected.

Studies have shown, Dr Mishra said, that 5% to 14% of the pregnant women infected with Zika virus have given birth to children with signs of the congenital Zika symdrome, which causes issues with brain development and vision.

GB syndrome is an uncommon illness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes it leads to paralysis.

“Several countries where the Zika virus has been experienced have reported an increase in the number of people with GB syndrome,” he said.

For his part, Dr Vedvrat Singh, Uttar Pradesh’s director general medical health, said on Monday evening, “We are conducting the infectious disease control campaign in the state and all health staff have been briefed about the Zika virus cases and asked to keep a watch in their respective areas, though no other district, apart from Kanpur, has reported Zika virus cases till now.”

“The staff has been asked to report and get tested all fever cases irrespective of the reasons and medical history,” said Dr Singh.

Experts are also discussing the question whether the Zika virus was prevalent in Kanpur for long.

“Virus may have been here in Kanpur for long and has come to light now,” Dr GK Mishra said, adding this notion gets strength as the patients testing positive for this virus now are largely asymptomatic.

Malaria control teams are carrying out a comprehensive campaign to destroy mosquito breeding points in a three km area in Kanpur’s Chakeri area.

The area within a three-kilometre radius of the place where the first case was reported has been divided into clusters—each is being combed by the health teams with a clear brief to trace pregnant women, test and monitor them along with the patients of fever, said Kanpur district magistrate Vishakh G Iyer.

“Zika is a mosquito-borne virus and is caused by the same mosquito that causes dengue. Hence if prevention and surveillance methods of dengue are followed strictly or intensified, Zika can also be controlled,” said Dr Sheetal Verma, senior faculty at department of microbiology at King George’s Medical University in Lucknow.

In Lucknow, over 4000 staff members are conducting surveillance.

The first case of the Zika virus in Kanpur was confirmed on October 23 this year. An Indian Air Force (IAF) warrant officer suffering from fever was admitted in the Air Force hospital where the doctors decided to go for further tests. His samples were sent to SGPGIMS (Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences) in Lucknow, where it was confirmed that he was infected with the Zika virus.

Thereafter, two more IAF personnel tested positive along with eight others.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that spreads through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito named Aedes aegypti. According to World Health Organisation, the Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, peaking during early morning and late afternoon or evening.

In normal course, the symptoms of the Zikus virus disease are mild fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and rashes.

The health department has sent two batches of mosquito samples from Kanpur to the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR) for a genetic study in the past one week. These mosquitoes were caught inside the IAF station in Kanpur and the other localities from where the Zika virus cases have been reported.

The health department on Monday issued an advisory for people and hospitals in Lucknow for the prevention, identification and treatment of Zika virus cases.

A suspected Zika virus case will include a person who has returned from a country where Zika virus cases were reported within two weeks’ time, a patient having fever and (red) rashes on skin, high fever, pain in muscles or joints, red eyes (non-purulent conjunctivitis or Conjuctival hyperacmia) and headache.

“The prevention of Zika virus cases shall be done via regular vector surveillance and integrated management, surveillance and elimination of sources of mosquito breeding,” said Dr Manoj Agrawal, the chief medical officer of Lucknow.

Fish that eat mosquito larva shall be put in places where mosquito breeding is spotted. Mosquito surveillance would be done, said the advisory for the medical staff.

“For people, the best way to stay safe is to avoid mosquito bite. Though Zika virus case has not yet been detected in Lucknow or any other district apart from Kanpur, it is advisable to stay safe. Hence remove all sources of mosquito breeding, which can take place in just a spoonful of stagnant water,” said Dr Abhishek Shukla, secretary general, Association of International Doctors.

During the day, Lucknow reported 34 fresh dengue cases from different areas, including Chinhat, Malihabad, Indira Nagar, Alambagh, Kakori and Aliganj. Health teams visited different localities and educated people about using mosquito nets while sleeping and to cover the body adequately while moving outdoors. Notices were served on owners of 12 houses after the teams spotted stagnant water on their premises.

Meanwhile, the microbiology department of the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial (GSVM) Medical College in Kanpur has issued an alert, fearing a rise in the cases of Zika virus disease and dengue in November.

The GSVM Medical College’s microbiology department has said in the alert that the larva of the Aedes mosquito would continue to be found in November.

“The climatic condition and temperature is conducive,” said Vikas Mishra, associate professor of microbiology at the medical college.

“Everyone needs to be in a state of high alert, the Aedes mosquito can speed up the circulation of the Zika virus,” he said.

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