Tamil Nadu public health authorities registers first case of Zika

Zika-virus in TN

CHENNAI,July11: Tamil Nadu public health authorities on Monday reported the first case of Zika from a sleepy hamlet in Krishnagiri district in the state, nearly two months after the World Health Organization confirmed three cases in India.

On June 26, a 28-year-old tailor in Natranpalayam Panchayat, arrived at the Anchetty primary health centre with fever, redness of the eyes, photophobia, skin rashes and joint pain -all warning signs of the mosquito-borne disease.

After doctors conducted tests and ruled out dengue, chikungunya, ma laria, leptospirosis and scrub typhus, they sent the patient’s blood and urine samples to Manipal Centre of Virus Research on June 30.

The next day , the centre confirmed Zika virus via a real-time PCR test. National Institute of Virology, Pune, also confirmed it five days later. “There were traces of the virus only in the urine sample,” health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said. To avert any alarm, health officials waited for more than 10 days after the man tested positive to announce the state’s first Zika case.

Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing birth defects. Infected people can pass on the virus to others through sex, blood transfusion and via the Aedes mosquito. Researchers are yet to develop an effective vaccine or medicine for Zika.

The patient in Krishnagiri has recovered completely, said Dr Radhakrishnan, who visited the man at his home over the weekend with health officials. “We undertook vector control measures in the area,” he said.

WHO in May announced that it had received reports about the first cases in India -six months after three women in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, tested positive for the virus in November 2016, a delay officials attributed to apprehensions that an announcement could trigger panic. Health officials in Tamil Nadu decided to go public about the case on Monday to create awareness.

“The disease is here.There is no point in keeping it a secret,” Dr Radhakrishnan said at a press conference on Monday. “We want doctors to keep their eyes open to this disease.”

“So far we have tested 40,000 people for Zika in the country,” ICMR director general Dr Soumya Swaminathan said the press conference. “The patient from Tamil Nadu is the fourth known Zika case in the country.

Three positive cases were reported from Gujarat.It is a low-prevalence disease and has so far not been viru lent. We have not seen the mother to child transmission of the disease.”

The patient from Krishnagiri is recovering well, health minister C Vijayabaskar said. “We have been screening for the virus in the last two years.”

 The Centre has provided King Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research, Chennai, with kits for Zika tests.
Scientists in 1947 first isolated the virus in Uganda, Africa, and described it as Zika in 1952. The disease attracted worldwide attention in 2015 after an outbreak in northeastern Brazil in 2015.WHO declared Zika a global health emergency in February 2016.
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