Centre to send a team to Maharashtra for Zika management

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday said it was deputing a high-level multidisciplinary team to Maharashtra to help it prepare to deal with Zika virus outbreak after a case of the viral disease was reported in Pune. Maharashtra is the second state in India to have Zika cases in India in recent times after Kerala where 63 cases of the disease have been reported over the last few days. The three-member central team being rushed to the state will consist of a public health expert from the office of regional director, Pune, a gynecologist from Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi and an entomologist from National Institute of Malaria Research in the capital.  The team, said the government, will work closely with the state health department, take a stock of the situation on ground and assess whether the Centre’s action plan for Zika management is being implemented, and recommend necessary public health interventions for the management of Zika in the state. The Zika virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and its initial symptoms may be similar to Covid-19. Though largely not very serious, it is mainly harmful for pregnant women, as the mother can pass the infection to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth leading to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than normal. In India, the first outbreak of the Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district in July that year. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management. However, a large outbreak of the disease was reported in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh the next year and pregnant women were advised against visiting the affected areas.