New Delhi: The mutations linked to foetal microcephaly and high transmissibility of Zika virus in Aedes mosquitoes are not present in the current Zika virus strain that has affected Rajasthan, union health ministry said on Saturday.
Microcephaly is a medical condition in which a new born baby’s head is significantly smaller than normal, due to abnormal brain development. Various studies have established that Zika virus may cause the condition after infecting a pregnant mother.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune engaged in the research on Zika, sequenced 5 Zika virus strains collected at different time points of the Jaipur outbreak.
The institute carried out advanced molecular studies of Zika virus strains through Next Generation Sequencing.
“However, the Government is maintaining high vigil of the possibility of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to Zika virus as the strain may mutate in future or some other unknown/host factors may play a role in microcephaly /other birth defects," said an official statement from union health ministry.
The Health Ministry said that it is reviewing the situation on a daily basis. So far at least 130 cases of zika virus have been reported in Jaipur. Around 2000 samples were tested for Zika virus positivity, of which 159 positive cases have been confirmed. Adequate numbers of testing kits have been provided to the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories, it said.
The State Government has been supplied with (Information Education and communication) material prepared to create awareness about Zika virus disease and its prevention strategies.
“All pregnant mothers in the area are being monitored through National Health Mission. Extensive surveillance and vector control measures are being taken up in the area as per protocol by the state government," said the statement.
Zika virus disease is an emerging disease currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide. Symptoms of Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January/February 2017 and second outbreak in July, 2017 from Krishnagiri District in Tamilnadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
The disease continues to be on disease surveillance radars of Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern vide WHO notification since 18th November, 2016. In Brazil in 2017 over 300 cases of microcephaly and other brain disorders were reported.