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Zika virus: US relaxes travel warnings to India

  • Category
    Miscellaneous
  • Published
    4th Apr, 2019
  • The US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has modified its advisory against travelling to India which it had issued after Zika cases were reported in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Indian government had urged the US to “withdraw or modify” its advisory in January by providing evidence of the contained outbreak in the country.

Context

  • The US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has modified its advisory against travelling to India which it had issued after Zika cases were reported in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Indian government had urged the US to “withdraw or modify” its advisory in January by providing evidence of the contained outbreak in the country.

About

  • It said that the Zika virus strain isolated from Rajasthan matches with the Brazilian Zika strain associated with outbreaks and microcephaly or Congenital Zika Syndrome (CZS).
  • The ICMR-NIV Pune has initiated mice/animal studies to understand the potential of this virus to cause microcephaly or CZS.
  • The ICMR has also initiated a study to understand the outcomes of pregnancy among women infected with Zika and also the occurrence of CZS as well as other neurological malformations in their newborns. The study is being rolled out in Rajasthan in the first week of April and in Bhopal by the end of April.

Background:

  • In December 2018, the CDC, USA, issued a travel health notice on Zika virus in India. The travel advisory depicted that India has an ongoing outbreak of the disease in Rajasthan and its surrounding states.
  • The advisory further cautioned pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks.
  • Women planning pregnancy were also alerted on travel. Such an advisory could have serious implications on travel and trade in India.

What is Zika Virus?

  • Zika virus is similar to dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Carried by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, Zika is largely transmitted through bites, but can also occur through intrauterine infection.
  • It was first identified in 1947 in Zika Forest, Uganda from where it derives its name. If a woman is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes infected, Zika can cross into the placenta and affect the fetus.
  • While anyone can contract Zika, pregnant women are the most at risk due to the potential for fetal microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities.
  • Symptoms includefever, headache, red eyes, skin rash, fatigue, muscle pain etc.

Treatment and Prevention

There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

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