Kerala:Zika tally reaches 18 with three fresh cases
Three more Zika virus cases were detected in Kerala on Sunday, taking the toll of total cases to 18, said state health minister Veena George. Among the infected are a health worker, a mother and her two-year-old baby. All cases are from the Thiruvananthapuram district.
The minister said now at least four laboratories will have the facility to test the virus and it will save enough time. Currently, the state is sending samples to the National Institute of Virology in Pune, which takes enough time. The minister said a state-wide vector control programme has been launched and sought people’s help to destroy the breeding ground of Aedes mosquitoes that spreads the virus. “We are doing everything possible to contain it,” she said.
A 24-year-old pregnant woman from Parasala in Thiruvananthapuram district was first to test positive for the Zika virus on Wednesday and two days later, 14 more people were added to the list. The Union health ministry then rushed a team of experts to the state to help contain the virus.
Zika cases surfaced at a time when the state is struggling with a heavy caseload of Covid-19 cases. For more than a month, the state has topped the Covid-19 charts in daily caseload and test positivity rate. On Sunday, the state reported 12,220 new cases with a TPR of 10.48 per cent. It also reported 97 deaths.
Experts said unlike Covid-19, Zika is not a major malady and it can be controlled with effective vector control programmes. The virus is spread mostly through mosquitoes but it can also be transmitted through casual sex and the fatality rate among patients is very low and only one in five develops symptoms, they said. The symptoms of the disease, first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947 and among humans in Nigeria in 1954, include joint pain, fever and headache. In May 2015, it was reported in Brazil, where it spread rapidly. The virus can cause shrunken brain in children and a rare auto-immune disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome, experts said, adding it was first reported in the country in Gujarat in 2017.