Belasar villagers in Pune turn volunteers, condoms distributed to check Zika virus spread
The central team has asked the Pune health administration to ensure that they continue the ongoing survey among symptomatic villagers in the five villages around Belasar for which the administration is training villagers to become volunteers. In view of the fact that the Zika virus could be sexually transmitted, the administration is also distributing condoms to young couples and potential mothers as the infection, although asymptomatic for mothers, could lead to microcephaly in foetuses.
The survey may go on for months as the central team has asked to ensure zero new cases of dengue and chikunugunya and zero detection of larvae breeding for at least two weeks which means that the survey would go on for months till the monsoon season is over.
To continue the survey, the administration is planning to train volunteers from the villages to visit every household regularly.
Dr Ujjawala Jadhav, taluka health officer of Purandar taluka, which was ground zero for Zika virus in the state, said, “We are identifying volunteers who could survey households regularly. It would not be possible for only health officials and our staff to survey all the homes in these six villages regularly and so we are training volunteers from each of the villages and they would inspect 20 homes per volunteer and look for symptoms. They would also be responsible for larvae collection and detection. The volunteers would be trained for the same. In case anyone is found positive for any of the symptoms, then the volunteer would inform the nearest primary health centre and then their blood samples would be sent for further tests. The central team has asked us to continue the survey until not even one dengue or chikungunya case is reported or even aedes larvae are found in these villages consistently for two weeks.”
The central team has asked to keep a tab on pregnant women. Even though the mortality due to Zika infection is much less and almost 80% of the cases are asymptomatic, they could be potential carriers. The virus also has a great impact on unborn children as it can cause microcephaly. The blood samples of pregnant women have been surveyed and all necessary precautions have been taken. Potential couples who could become pregnant have been asked to use contraception and the district administration has distributed condoms to the young couples. “We have given almost 10-15 condoms per couple which we will give in regular intervals, as per protocol until we can be sure that there is no infection prevalent,” said Dr Jadhav.