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Health Ministry Issues Guidelines on Zika Virus Disease
Feb 06, 2016

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued guidelines on the Zika virus disease. Zika virus disease is an emerging viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that is known to transmit infections like Dengue and Chikungunya.  Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947. 

Major Guidelines

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) through its community and hospital based data gathering mechanism would track clustering of acute febrile illness   and seek primary case, if any, among those who travelled to areas with ongoing transmission in the 2 weeks preceding the onset of illness. 

  • All the International Airports/Ports will display billboards/signage providing information to travellers on Zika virus disease and to report to Custom authorities if they are returning from affected countries and suffering from febrile illness. The Airport/Port Health Organization would have quarantine/isolation facility in identified Airports. 

  • Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) shall be activated at Central and State surveillance units. Each team would comprise an epidemiologist/public health specialist, microbiologist and a medical/ paediatric specialist and other experts (entomologist etc) to travel at short notice to investigate suspected outbreak. 

  • National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi would be the nodal agency for investigation of outbreak in any part of the country. NCDC, Delhi and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, have the capacity to provide laboratory diagnosis of Zika virus disease in acute febrile stage. These two institutions would be the apex laboratories to support the outbreak investigation and for confirmation of laboratory diagnosis.  

  • Ten additional laboratories would be strengthened by ICMR to expand the scope of laboratory diagnosis. 

  • As of now there is no commercially available test for Zika virus disease. Serological tests are not recommended. 

  • There would be enhanced integrated vector management. States where dengue transmission is going on currently due to conducive weather conditions (Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc) should ensure extra vigil.  

  • Non-essential travel to the affected countries to be deferred/cancelled.

  • Pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant should defer/cancel their travel to the affected areas.

  • Persons with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory illness, Immune disorders etc) should seek advice from the nearest health facility, prior to travel to an affected country. 

  • Pregnant women who have travelled to areas with Zika virus transmission should mention about their travel during ante-natal visits in order to be assessed and monitored appropriately

  • National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, the Focal Point for International Health Regulations (IHR), would seek/share information with the IHR focal points of the affected countries and be in constant touch with World Health Organization for updates on the evolving epidemic. 

  • Indian Council of Medical Research would identify the research priorities and take appropriate action.

  • The situation would be monitored by the Joint Monitoring group under Director General of Health Services on regular basis. 

Zika virus disease has the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector, a lack of immunity among population in newly affected areas and the high volume of international travel. As of now, the disease has not been reported in India. However, the mosquito that transmits Zika virus, namely Aedes Aegypti, that also transmits dengue virus, is widely prevalent in India. 

 

  • World Health Organization has declared Zika virus disease to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 1 February, 2016.

Zika virus disease has been reported so far in the following countries; Brazil, Barbados, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Equador, El Salvador, French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St Martin, Suriname, Virgin Island  and Venezuela. 

NOTE: This list is likely to change with time. Hence, updated information should be checked periodically.  

 

 


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